Fa­ther told mate of a ‘ rough time’ just days be­fore ex­plo­sion tore out Mount Isa’s heart

Townsville Bulletin - - NEWS - PETER MICHAEL

JUST days be­fore Char­lie Hin­der and his chil­dren were killed in a gas ex­plo­sion, the dad- of- two told a mate he was hav­ing a “rough time” but he wasn’t go­ing any­where with­out his kids.

The 39- year- old boil­er­maker had shown signs of de­pres­sion and said he was strug­gling with fam­ily mat­ters. He had sep­a­rated from his part­ner Kath and it is be­lieved the pair were locked in a cus­tody bat­tle over daugh­ter Ny­obi, 7, and four- yearold son River, who were killed in Tues­day’s hor­rific blast in Mount Isa.

The po­lice in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the deadly ex­plo­sion could take months.

Mr Hin­der’s friend Kev Span­ner last night said he had told his mate to take a hol­i­day and spend time with fam­ily Rock­hamp­ton.

“I’m not go­ing any­where with­out my kids,” he told Mr Span­ner, who runs the lo­cal con­ve­nience store. “I can’t leave my kids.’’

“He was down, but he was a good fella, qui-

in etly spo­ken, a lov­ing fa­ther, and there was no sign of dis­as­ter,’’ Mr Span­ner said.

“Four days ago I saw him again, asked how he was go­ing, he threw out his arms and said ‘ no bet­ter’. “It could just be an ac­ci­dent. But in the back of my mind is just how de

pressed and down he had been for a long time.’’

Po­lice are try­ing to piece to­gether how two LPG gas cylin­ders were det­o­nated in the car­a­van, caus­ing ex­plo­sions that tore off doors and shat­tered win­dows in homes up to 300m away and scat­tered de­bris in a 150m ra­dius.

Shock waves were felt by res­i­dents kilo­me­tres away.

Foren­sic of­fi­cers will to­day con­tinue the grue­some task of iden­ti­fy­ing bod­ies in the de­bris. Po­lice evac­u­ated 50 homes – with 19 still in lock­down – and have block­aded sev­eral sub­ur­ban streets.

Neigh­bours and fam­ily friends have been al­lowed to put flow­ers at the perime­ter.

Mother- of- twins Yen­dah Leewong, who lives op­po­site the blast site, broke down in tears as she told how her front door was ripped off its hinges and she emerged to see the home en­gulfed in flames.

She said she knew the two chil­dren and had of­ten watched them hap­pily play­ing in the front yard.

Lo­cal Anita Varley, who also knew the chil­dren, left flow­ers as she paid trib­ute to “our lost lit­tle an­gels”.

“I just feel so sad. I used to see that car­a­van all the time and now it’s gone, and so are those two beau­ti­ful chil­dren. It breaks my heart. Why did they have to die like that?” she said.

The chil­dren’s mother Kath Hin­der was still in shock and too “deeply trau­ma­tised” to make a for­mal state­ment, po­lice said.

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