COPS TEST POSSIBLE DIY BOMB
POLICE are awaiting test results on a possible makeshift bomb found at the site of a triple fatal gas explosion in Mount Isa.
Senior officers declined to speculate on whether two LPG gas bottles had been rigged to blow in Tuesday’s tragedy.
Crime scene analysts have identified fragments of exploded cylinders in a blackened bomb- like crater outside the family home.
Forensic officers have also sent DNA samples to Brisbane to confirm it was boilermaker Charlie Hinder, 39, and his children Nyobi, 7, and River, 4, killed in the blast inside a caravan, with preliminary findings expected early next week.
Acting Assistant Commissioner Paul Taylor said police were unable to confirm if it was a murder- suicide or a tragic accident.
“It is a painstaking process,’’ he said. “We need to be methodical and meticulous. This is still an open book, we cannot jump to any conclusions, or rule things in or out, until we get rock- solid evidence.’’
Traffic cones marked body parts strewn in a 50m radius of the blast on the road and atop nearby homes.
In a fiery detonation that tore apart the caravan, torched the family home, shattered windows and was felt kilometres away, the scale of the devastation and charred debris has inhibited forensic work as 70 investigators probe the tragedy.
Police last night hoped to allow residents of all but four of 14 households evacuated inside the exclusion zone back into their homes.
Mr Hinder’s boss at Kretschmann Engineering said the boilermaker was a well- liked workmate.
He said the father- of- two was a good worker and a devoted dad.
“He took a few sickies … but only ever to look after his kids,’’ he said.
He did not want to discuss his employee’s mental state, marital breakup or whether he had detected signs of depression.
“We can only let the police do their job. Maybe we’ll know more when they finalise their investigation.’’
Shop owner Kev Skinner earlier said Mr Hinder had been visibly “down” in recent months, and days before the deadly explosion, told him: “I can’t leave my kids.’’
The Hinders appeared to be a loving family and were “low on the radar” regarding domestic violence orders, a police source said.
Daughter Nyobi was a student at Barkly Highway State School and River was in day care. Both attended the PCYC after school.
Fellow students and teachers have been offered counselling and support as they grieve for two “sweet, innocent, ordinary kids”.
Grandfather Robert Smith told Fairfax Media how his son- in- law had separated from wife Kath and moved into the caravan.
“The kids used to go and have a camp out when Kath was on night shift,’’ said Mr Smith, who was reportedly flying from his home in Perth to Mt Isa. “They’d go and sleep over with daddy outside.’’
The community is understood to have raised more than $ 5000 for the children’s funerals.
Sue Wicks, who is leading the online fundraising effort, said it removed the financial burden from the children’s mother.
“She has her two children who she now has to arrange a funeral for and that’s not cheap, so this will be to help get her the funeral she wants,” Ms Wicks told Seven News.
The fundraising effort is also helping the residents of homes cut off in the exclusion zone.
TRAGEDY: Charlie Hinder with daughter Nyobi, 7; ( above) a forensic officer at the site yesterday.