​Ammonium nitrate truck explodes

A truck transporting ammonium nitrate has exploded in South West Queensland, destroying bridges, sections of the road, and two firefighting trucks.

The vehicle was reportedly carrying more than 50 tonnes of AN when it rolled, just south of Charleville, late on Friday night, according to the ABC.

Ammonium nitrate is a key ingredient in creating explosives.

The truck initially caught fire, and had firefighters attempting to extinguish the blaze, when it exploded, injuring eight people.

Luckily the driver was pulled from the truck immediately after the initial roll over occurred, with no one being injured in the subsequent blast.

"As I understand the auxiliaries performed a snatch and grab (of the driver), they witnessed certain fire activities which gave the indication they needed to get out as soon as they could," chief superintendent for the south west region Lindsay Hackett explained, according to the Toowoomba Chronicle.

It is understood that the blast itself was caused after fuel leaked into the ammonium nitrate load.

“We've had a primary and a secondary explosion out there – it's quite a devastating scene," assistant fire commissioner for the south west region Tom Dawson told the ABC.

"The infrastructure damage to that road is significant."

He went on to say that the injuries of those caught up in the blast consist of “a lot of bruising, cutting, very minor burns from flying pieces of debris, and certainly a lot of internal bruising, which is what the medical people are looking at.

It was "beyond luck" that no one was killed in the explosion, Dawson added.

Police are currently searching for remnants of the vehicle, however due to the size of the explosion they are finding the task difficult.

"When we were extricating in an emergency situation we could not locate any specific wreckage of the vehicle," local senior sergeant Adrian Rieck told the ABC.

"This could be for a couple of reasons – one we were unable to conduct an appropriate assessment based on the amount of smoke and the ammonium nitrate and risk of further injury; we had to evacuate as soon as we could.

"The second issue for that is the fact that due to the type of explosion that the vehicle has disintegrated."

Rollovers or incidents concerning ammonium nitrate trucks are relatively rare, with the incident outside Charleville the first recorded explosion for some time.

In 2012 two drivers were injured after a collision between two trucks, one carrying ammonium nitrate, occurred, which resulted in a spill of AN across the road.

In that same year another explosive truck rolled, spilling approximately 200kg of AN across the road.

Image: QLD Police Service

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