| 12.10,17. 02:03 AM |
'It's like a war zone': Explosions rattle NSW town after fertiliser truck crash
Photo: Damage can be seen on the street in Singleton where the truck crashed. (ABC News: Kerrin Thomas)
A stolen fertiliser truck has crashed into a building at Singleton in the Hunter Valley, sparking explosions and a major rescue operation, police have said.
The semi-trailer hit several cars and a building on the New England Highway at George Street, sparking a blaze.
Singleton Mayor Sue Moore said the town "looks like a war zone".
"I can sympathise with the people that are actually involved with the situation," she said.
"I was looking at the live feed on the Facebook site and I thought, 'this can't be real'."
A spokesman from the Hunter rescue helicopter said a 67-year-old man had multiple injuries and was flown to John Hunter Hospital in Newcastle.
Police said that man was in one of the vehicles. He is in a serious condition with non-life-threatening injuries.
A second person was flown to John Hunter Hospital in a serious condition, while a third person was taken by road ambulance with shoulder and leg injuries.
A further two people were taken to Singleton District Hospital with minor injuries.
Truck allegedly stolen
Police said the truck was stolen from a service station at Murrurundi.
Officers said the truck was sighted driving erratically south along the highway, through Muswellbrook and towards Singleton.
They said a pursuit was not initiated.
As the truck approached Singleton, officers deployed road spikes in order to stop the vehicle.
The truck continued into George Street, where it caught fire after crashing into several vehicles and buildings, including one next to the Royal Hotel.
A Fire and Rescue structural engineering team has been sent from Newcastle to assess the Royal Hotel building.
Gabrielle Brown, who saw the crash and subsequent explosions, said it was "pretty scary".
"I was out here on the footpath just watching it and there were two more explosions after the initial explosion," she said
Ms Brown said she saw the driver try to flee, prompting several officers to draw their guns.
Another witness, Shannon Brown, said he saw the truck driver flee but then try to get into another truck.
"When he got out of the truck that was on fire he got into another truck and that is when the police got their guns out and pointed them at him," he said.
Police said the driver was arrested at the scene and is currently assisting with inquiries.
The critical incident team from Port Stephens Local Area Command is investigating the circumstances surrounding the incident including the deployment of road spikes.
That investigation will be subject to an independent review.