Investigations are underway into a suspected gas explosion at an underground coal mine in central Queensland, which has left five miners with severe burns.
The horror accident happened at the Anglo American Grosvenor coal mine at Moranbah, South-West of Mackay, just after 3.00pm on Wednesday.
The miners, aged in their 40s and 50s, suffered burns to their bodies and airways and were flown to the Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital’s burns unit via five separate planes overnight.
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Four men are continuing to fight for life, while a fifth man’s condition has slightly improved this morning and is in a serious condition.
“First of all, can I express our deep sadness of what’s happened here at this mine with the five people injured,” Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said at a news conference on Thursday.
“Our thoughts are with the families and we hope for the very best for these men who have been tragically injured in this accident.”
The Premier said that she is taking the incident very seriously and is considering establishing a board of inquiry with public hearings to get to the bottom of exactly what happened.
“Mines have a duty of care to make sure their workers get to work safely and return home to their families safely and this has not happened in this case,” she said.
“It’s very tough work and it’s very complex and we need to get to the bottom of what happened here.”
Ms Palaszczuk said she has since asked Minister for Natural Resources, Mines and Energy, Anthony Lynham, to fly to Moranbah.
“I understand that there’s a full investigation underway, and that some inspectors flew in there yesterday afternoon,” she said.
“But today I have also asked Dr Lynham to fly up to Moranbah to meet with the Mayor and to talk to the community about what has happened there as well.”
In a statement this morning, Anglo American said support was being offered to the injured miners families.
“We are all devastated and we don’t yet understand what caused this incident,” CEO of Metallurgical Coal business, Tyler Mitchelson said.
“Once it is safe to return underground, we will commence an expert technical investigation to ensure we understand what has happened.”
The mine has since been evacuated and all operations stopped.