SMALL TOWN HORROR: The Serves You Right cafe in Ravenshoe was badly damaged when a gas cylinder exploded after a flying car smashed into it. 21 people were hurt. Image:7 News Brisbane/Twitter
SYDNEY, Australia - 21 people were injured when a car smashed into a cafe in a remote Australian town, hit a gas cylinder and sparked a huge explosion described as "absolute mayhem".
Police said the car veered into the Serves You Right Cafe in Ravenshoe, a small town some 1710km north of Queensland state's capital, Brisbane, around midday on June 9 29015.
MANY PEOPLE BURNED
Ravenshoe police said: "As a result of that crash, a gas bottle ignited and the building caught fire."
A Queensland Ambulance Service spokesperson said 21 people were being treated for injuries, three of them critically hurt. They were being flown to nearby hospitals.
Eight others had minor to moderate injuries and were being taken by road to three hospitals in the region. The rest of the injuries were superficial.
An ambulance spokesman earlier said most of the injuries were believed to be burns-related from a blaze that took an hour to extinguish.
Two helicopters and a Royal Flying Doctor plane, an aero-medical service covering regional and remote areas, were sent to the site of the crash, which a witness described as "absolute mayhem".
"He hit the gas bottle on the side," the witness, who was not named, told the Cairns Post newspaper, referring to the car's driver.
'FELT LIKE AN EARTHQUAKE'
"There were three huge bangs, it almost lifted the roof off. It felt like an earthquake, it felt serious." Another witness told the newspaper "the whole town" felt the blast.
"One old lady had her clothes burnt off her," she added.
Ken Hodge told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation he saw two vehicles collide outside the cafe with one becoming airborne before it smashing into the eatery.
Hodge said: "It's pandemonium in the middle of Ravenshoe, quite a large number of people there wrapped in blankets," he said of the close-knit town with a population of less than 1000.
The police spokesman said investigators were speaking to witnesses to find out how the accident happened.
DEVASTATED: A gas explosion ripped through the Serves You Right cafe in Ravenshoe, Australia, after a an airborne bakkie smashed into the popular eatery. Image: Sharnie Kim / Twitter