An exploding chemical toilet at Rockhampton Airport caused third degree burns to a man inside.
An exploding chemical toilet at Rockhampton Airport caused third degree burns to a man inside. Chris Ison

Light-up blamed in loo explosion

A ROYAL Australian Air Force member was expected to be airlifted to Brisbane last night after suffering horrific burns in a portaloo explosion apparently sparked by a cigarette.

The man suffered third-degree burns to his head, face, arms, chest and airways in an incident at the Rockhampton Airport about 9.30am yesterday, the Department of Community Safety said.

“There was some sort of explosion in a portaloo.

"It's believed the man was lighting a cigarette at the time,” a Department of Community Safety spokeswoman said.

“He was taken to the Rockhampton Hospital in a serious condition.”

It's believed the injured man is aged in his 50s and is a sergeant with the Royal Australian Air Force 322 Combat Support Squadron, based in the Northern Territory.

Talisman Sabre 2011 spokesman Brigadier Bob Brown said the first priority was for the injured man's well-being.

“The cause of the explosion is unknown and is being investigated,” Brigadier Brown said.

“The Royal Australian Air Force member received immediate first aid from his colleagues and he was taken to the Rockhampton Base Hospital with severe burns.”

The man's family has been notified.

The Defence Force is working closely with Queensland authorities to investigate the incident.

Neither police nor Brig Brown would speculate about how the explosion occurred and would not confirm the earlier Department of Community Safety position that a cigarette had sparked the incident.

About midday yesterday, Rockhampton police Acting Inspector Rebecca Martin said police would interview the three people who were working with the injured man at the time of the explosion.

Act Insp Martin said the injured man was in a supervisory role for work on a generator.

“Obviously we will be looking at how it lit up,” Act Insp Martin said.

Smoking is not allowed at the airport.

The incident happened at the southern end of the airport, close to the Yeppen Lagoon.

Rockhampton Regional Council late yesterday said the incident did not impact on airport operations or flights in or out of the airport.

Talisman Sabre, a joint US-Australia military exercise, is being held in the Rockhampton area and is using the airport.

On Friday, nine Australian soldiers were injured when their armoured personnel carrier overturned at Shoalwater Bay.

One soldier was taken to a Brisbane Hospital for treatment and is expected to make a full recovery.



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