Two people are fighting for their lives after a freak explosion at a far north Queensland cafe left at least 18 people injured.
A 37-year-old woman was flown to the Royal Brisbane & Women’s Hospital on Tuesday night with burns to 80 per cent of her body, while a 56-year-old man remains in a critical condition at Townsville Hospital.
He’s also expected to be flown to the Royal Brisbane’s burns unit.
There were devastating scenes when a four-wheel drive ute ploughed into gas bottles during Tuesday’s lunchtime rush at the Serves You Right Cafe at Ravenshoe, southwest of Cairns, sparking an explosion and fire.
The blast was so powerful it blew out the eatery’s front windows and left the property gutted.
At least 18 people have been taken to hospitals in Cairns, Atherton, Innisfail, Townsville and Brisbane to be treated for burns.
The 11 women, six men and one girl range in age from 15 to 82.
As well as the two critical patients, two women, aged 52 and 82, are in a serious condition.
The other 14 patients are in a stable condition.
Two of the victims were firefighters who were having lunch when the blast happened.
One has burns to half his body, while the other has burns to 20 per cent.
A Cairns health district spokesman said some of the 14 patients in far north Queensland hospitals would be transferred to specialist units in Brisbane for further treatment.
‘Extra resources have been deployed to our regional facilities and social work support has been made available at Cairns and Atherton hospitals,’ he said.
Emergency Services Minister Jo-Ann Miller will visit the scene on Wednesday with local MP Shane Knuth.
‘Obviously we’re all shattered, we’re all hurt by it,’ Mr Knuth has told the ABC.
Police remain at the scene as investigations continue into the incident, which Tablelands Regional Council mayor Rosa Lee Long says has left the town in shock.
She says help will be on hand to help people deal with the trauma of the incident.
‘Ravenshoe being a small community, everybody knows everybody,’ she told the ABC. ’
‘Even the fellow driving the vehicle that crashed into the gas bottle was a local fellow as well.’
A police spokesman said he couldn’t confirm reports the driver crashed because he was having a heart attack.