2 injured, thousands flee as fireworks malfunction at Australian beach

Fireworks reportedly started going off after a barge caught fire at Terrigal Beach in New South Wales on Dec 31.
Fireworks reportedly started going off after a barge caught fire at Terrigal Beach in New South Wales on Dec 31.PHOTO: TWITTER/@PIPCLEAVES

Thousands of revellers fled and two people suffered minor injuries after a fireworks malfunction at a beach party in Australia on New Year's Eve (Dec 31), Australian media said.

A crowd had gathered at Terrigal Beach in New South Wales on Sunday night for the New Year's Eve fireworks from 9pm, News.com.au reported.

An explosion sparked a fire on a display barge metres away from the crowd, with two pyrotechnicians jumping into the sea to escape the flames.

The police said the two men suffered minor injuries when the barge caught fire at 9pm, sending many fireworks into the air all at once, ABC.net.au reported.

Witnesses reportedly said fireworks were spraying into the crowd after the blast.

The two pyrotechnicians, both men, were rescued from the water by passing boats and later taken to hospital for treatment.

Emergency services including the police, ambulances and marine rescuers arrived shortly after and the crowd was evacuated.

The event organiser for the NYE Terrigal Fireworks Festival said in a statement on Facebook on New Year's Day that the period between 5pm and 9pm "was truly amazing".

The organiser said the operators believe there was an explosion in a canister which led to multiple detonations.

It added that "no one was injured".

The incident will be investigated by New South Wales' workplace health and safety regulator Safe Work NSW.

Australia is one of the first countries to ring in the New Year and is known for its crossing-year parties, with tourists flying to the country for the occasion.