First responders have uncovered the likely reason why a science experiment at a Sydney school ended in an explosion, resulting in a 10-year-old girl being airlifted to hospital with severe burns.
Eight ambulances and two helicopters, one with a specialist medical team on board, rushed to the incident at Manly West Public School in Balgowlah around 1pm Monday.
Eleven children, around the age of 10, and one adult were affected by the “hazmat incident,” which was reportedly caused by a scientific experiment gone awry.
The incident is believed to have happened during a “black worm” experiment that used fire accelerants to set baking soda and sugar on fire.
NSW Ambulance said Monday’s strong winds were partly responsible for the experiment going wrong for the Year 5 class.
“We have received several Triple 0 calls reporting that a number of children had suffered burns during a science experiment being conducted outside,” said Phil Templeman, Acting Superintendent of the NSW Ambulance.
“Today’s strong winds affected the experiment and blew some of the materials around.”
The most seriously injured child, a young girl, suffered multiple burns to her body and was flown to Children’s Hospital in Westmead in a stable condition after being treated by a specialist from CareFlight and an ambulance from the NSW Ambulance.
Another was taken by ambulance to the same hospital, where a specialized medical team treated severe burns.
Five children were taken to the Royal North Shore Hospital and four to Northern Beaches Hospital with superficial burns.
The adult patient was taken to Northern Beaches Hospital in stable condition.
NSW Ambulance said the incident required a “major response” from paramedics.
“The children suffered burns to their torsos, chests, faces and legs; Fortunately, the majority of the students were not seriously injured,” said Mr. Templeman.
NSW Education Minister Sarah Mitchell offered support from the state government after the incident.
“My thoughts are with the students and staff affected by today’s incident at Manly West Public School,” Ms Mitchell said.
“I spoke to the Principal this afternoon to offer my support to the entire school community and I would like to give a special thank you and appreciation to all the school staff who acted so quickly to provide first aid and call emergency services.
“We will provide any resources the school community may need in the coming days, including advice for students and staff.
“Investigations into the incident are being carried out by the relevant authorities including the Department of Education and NSW Police. In addition, SafeWork NSW has been notified and will conduct its own investigation in due course.”
Affected students and staff receive well-being support.
Originally published as Authorities reveal why science experiment at Sydney primary school went horribly wrong