A police officer and four firefighters were among those hospitalised after a truck carrying ammonium nitrate rolled over and exploded near Charleville in south-west Queensland.
A police spokesman said the blast was so powerful the truck “disintegrated”, destroying two firefighting vehicles along with it and causing “catastrophic” damage to the Mitchell Highway.
Authorities said it could be more than a week before they reopen the road. Two road bridges were destroyed and a major section of the highway was missing.
The tanker, carrying more than 50 tonnes of the chemical, rolled on the highway about 30 kilometres south of Charleville just before 10:00pm (AEST) on Friday.
Firefighters were trying to extinguish the fire when the truck exploded, injuring eight people, including four firefighters, a police officer, two passers-by and the truck driver.
The Queensland Fire and Rescue Service (QFRS) said two firefighters were still in Toowoomba Hospital and were considered “walking wounded”.
The two other firefighters taken to Charleville Hospital had since been released.
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