ISA GAS BLAST TRAGEDY

Fa­ther, kids dead in gas ex­plo­sion

Townsville Bulletin - - FRONT PAGE - TOM SNOW­DON THOMAS CHAM­BER­LIN

AN EX­PLO­SION that shook the en­tire town of Mount Isa, killing a fa­ther and his two young chil­dren, is be­ing in­ves­ti­gated by po­lice as a pos­si­ble mur­der- sui­cide.

Char­lie Hin­der, 39, and his two chil­dren, be­lieved to be Ny­obi, 7, and four- year- old son River, died in the car­a­van blast, which shook homes more than 1km away.

Res­i­dents de­scribed feel­ing as though the town was un­der at­tack be­cause of the deaf­en­ing sound of the blast and a se­ries of smaller ex­plo­sions that fol­lowed.

The im­pact from the det­o­na­tion, thought to be fu­elled by at least one 9kg gas cylin­der, was so great it smashed win­dows in nearby homes and caused the house next door to catch fire.

Po­lice – in­clud­ing spe­cial­ists from Townsville and Bris­bane – were un­able to rule out a mur­der­sui­cide last night as they con­tin­ued to work at the scene on Deighton St.

The car­a­van, which was com­pletely de­stroyed, was parked in the yard of a home owned by Mr Hin­der since 2013. A woman, be­lieved to be the chil­dren’s mother, was in­side the home at the time.

She was last night re­leased from Mount Isa hos­pi­tal suf­fer­ing se­vere shock but only mi­nor in­juries. Po­lice yesterday said it was still un- clear why Mr Hin­der had been in­side the car­a­van with his chil­dren or how long they had been in there.

Po­lice sources de­clined to con­firm re­ports of a mar­i­tal break- up and cus­tody bat­tle over the chil­dren. “Un­til we can ex­am­ine the scene, we are treat­ing the sit­u­a­tion with an open mind,” Mount Isa Su­per­in­ten­dent Rus­sell Miller said.

He said ini­tial in­ves­ti­ga­tions in­di­cated at least one of the two gas cylin­ders on the back of the car­a­van was thought to be re­spon­si­ble for fuelling the ex­plo­sion.

“The car­a­van is to­tally de­stroyed,” Supt Miller said. “There’s noth­ing left ex­cept some smoul­der­ing rub­ble.”

Po­lice es­tab­lished a four- block

The first ex­plo­sion was huge. It shook our whole house

ex­clu­sion zone yesterday, with lo­cal res­i­dents evac­u­ated from the area.

Up to 30 homes were still in­ac­ces­si­ble last night, with the lo­cal civic cen­tre be­ing used as a com­mu­nity re­cov­ery base.

One Mount Isa res­i­dent, only known as Steve, claimed the sound was so loud he thought it came from his own backyard. “The first ex­plo­sion was huge,” Steve said. “It shook our whole house.”

The 67- year- old ex­plained the ini­tial blast, which went off about 7am, was fol­lowed by a se­ries of small ex­plo­sions that sounded “like an au­to­matic weapon go­ing off”.

“I thought we were un­der at­tack for a minute,” he said.

TOWN SHAKEN: Char­lie Hin­der and his chil­dren, be­lieved to be River, 4, and Ny­obi, 7, ( above) were killed in the blast; charred me­tal ( right) was all that re­mained of the car­a­van.

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