Originally published in The Daily Mirror.
Terrifying footage shows the chaos after rockets from a fireworks display landed in the crowd watching on.
Four people celebrating Australia Day were injured in the accident and taken to hospital with burns from the projectiles, but all have now been discharged.
The video, taken by an onlooker, shows the crowd-pleasing display moments before the horrifying moment when one set of rockets malfunctioned and rather than exploding harmlessly in the sky dived towards the ground.
Suddenly, bright flashes of red light and smoke plunge towards the person holding the camera. The crowd screams and scrambles for cover as the burning fireworks crash nearby. “Oh my God, oh my God,” one woman shouts in fear.
Thousands of Australians had gathered in the town of Bunbury in Western Australia to mark the country’s national day and enjoy a firework display.
The woman who filmed the carnage, Paula Sayer, said on Facebook that it was a “miracle” many more people were not hurt.
“Miraculously although some hit people, none of the explosions happened really close, it really was a miracle. I’m fine, I went into ED nurse mode. Minor burns/injuries, couple left by ambulance, but could have been so very much worse. Thank God!”
Another startled onlooker, Melissa Laurence, described how she grabbed her children and grandchildren and ran.
“[The firework] shot straight into us all, hit a tree and then exploded. People did get hurt … to what degree I don’t know, I did see someone’s jumper on fire … I also know it hit a man’s leg,”reported.
“But at the time I was too busy running away with my children and my grandchildren to stick around and see [what happened].”
A local police officer, Sergeant Laurie Stubbs, suggested that injuries could have been even worse as one of the projectiles failed to explode when it landed and thankfully police and first-aiders were close by.
This is the second time in less than a fireworks display in Bunbury, run by the same company, has caused injuries.
On New Year’s Eve a 68-year-old woman operating a fireworks display was critically injured when one firework blew up in her face.
The firm, Cardile Fireworks, has not yet commented on the latest accident, but was fined the equivalent of £18,000 in 2014 for unsafe storage, supply, and management of fireworks.
The Mayor of Bunbury, Gary Brennan, told ABC that while the Australia Day incident was “regrettable” he was confident everyone working on the event had been “vigilant”. “My understanding is it’s the same company that we’ve used for many, many years without incident.”
On Carlile Firework’s website, the company claims “the Cardile name is synonymous with fireworks display excellence in Western Australia”. “Safety is paramount”, the website also states.