Australia: Barge Carrying Fireworks Catches Fire, Thousands Evacuated

Thousands of people that visited Terrigal Beach in New South Wales to watch the fireworks had to be evacuated after the barge that was carrying the New Year fireworks caught on fire.

The show began without any problems but things quickly went bad for the people behind the fireworks and the spectators. A fire on the barge reportedly began setting off the fireworks randomly. The fireworks began going all over the place, including the beach.

The malfunction during the fireworks display left two pyrotechnicians injured. They jumped to the water and reached shore shortly after the random fireworks began. They were treated by emergency teams for minor injuries.

Several spectators took pictures and videos of the random fireworks. In one video, the fireworks can be seen flying all over the air along with loud explosions. Police evacuated and closed the area as it happened.

One spectator said on Twitter that the boat caught fire and started shooting fireworks randomly. Thousands had attended the event to see the fireworks display. The show began at 9:00 p.m. but it was over in just a few minutes. The organizers said on social media that the show was pushed into four and a half minutes. The display was planned to last 12 minutes.

The organizers added that it became clear that it wasn’t a controlled show as there were  fireworks setting off randomly. They said that at that time, it was considered unsafe and the area was evacuated. Authorities are now investigating the incident but organizers have said that they believe the fireworks were set off by a canister that exploded.

Authorities say there were around 5,000 to 6,000 people by the beach at the time. The beach was closed and the thousands of people were evacuated. There are no reports of other people injured during the incident.

In Sydney, the huge fireworks display went perfectly. The most popular points of the harbor were reportedly full hours before the show. Estimates say more than a million people watched the show, which lasted 12 minutes and cost A$7 million ($5.47 million). In Melbourne, thousands visited Federation Square to watch the fireworks show. The fireworks show involved more than 60 pyrotechnicians and 22 rooftops. The cost was around $2.8 million.

Samoa was the first country to welcome the year, followed by New Zealand, Australia and Japan.