ISA GAS BLAST TRAGEDY
Father, kids dead in gas explosion
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.