2014 September 5 – A truck carrying at least fifty tonnes of ammonium nitrate crashed and exploded along Mitchell Highway at Wyandra, 30km south of Charleville, Australia, as it overturned and caught fire at around 9:50 in the late evening.
The massive explosion destroyed the truck as well as two firefighting vehicles and two bridges. One of the devastated bridges was the Angellala Bridge on the Mitchell Highway between Wyandra and Charleville. The blast also blew a hole in Mitchell Highway several meters deep.
Local fire officers were surprised that there were no serious casualties resulting from the incident. Shockwaves from the explosion were felt by residents in nearby towns as far as 30 kilometers away. Earlier reports also said that the massive blast triggered a 2.0 magnitude earthquake in the area.
Tom Dawson, Assistant Fire Commissioner for the southwest region describes the incident: “We’re talking up to two to three kilometres of damage to foliage, structures, the rail bridge, the bridge itself.” Police Senior-Sergeant Adrian Rieck pictured the incident as a war zone.
Constable Kenric Head points pointed out the lethal combination ANFO that is ammonium nitrate mixed with fuel and oil. It was the same combination and power that took away the lives of 168 people in Oklahoma in April 1995. Furthermore, Peter Garske, CEO of Queensland Trucking Association, said that the incident requires careful investigation before considering the tightening of regulations. As a matter of information, ammonium nitrate is an oxidising agent, listed under Class 5.1 of the Dangerous Goods Regulations.