NEW SOUTH WALES, Australia - In an incident that shocked thousands of onlookers at an Australian beach, a New Year fireworks display caught fire, sending fireworks to go off at random.
The apparent malfunction sparked the 10,000 fireworks stored at a barge to go off a few minutes into the show at the Terrigal Beach in New South Wales.
The show was accompanied by a women-only soundtrack as a tribute to the 100th anniversary of women being granted the vote in the country.
Despite increased security, including armed police and security barriers, there were fewer police officers present during the celebration.
Thousands of people on the beach had to be moved to safety and police sealed off the area.
Soon after, emergency services rushed to the scene and police said the crowds of about 5,000 to 6,000 people, were removed from the beach as a precaution.
Amid the shuddering eruption two pyrotechnicians, who jumped off the boat to get ashore, were later treated by paramedics for minor injuries.
Witnesses quoted in the local media said that the family-friendly fireworks show at 21:00 quickly turned to chaos and loud explosions were heard from the barge as fireworks started going off simultaneously.
Some onlookers took to Twitter to describe the horror, with one user saying, "It was an absolute chaos. The boat shooting the fireworks goes on fire and started shootings randomly. Lucky I escaped as soon as I saw the boat on fire."
It's Time for Terrigal, the event organisers took to Facebook and said that they believe a canister had exploded, setting off "multiple detonations.”
They added that what should have been a 12-minute display was "pushed into 4 and a half.”
The organizers added, "It became apparent this wasn't a directed event, as there [were] random fireworks going off, at this time it was deemed unsafe and we evacuated the area."
They said, overall, the event "went pretty well.”
Work safety authorities have launched an investigation into the incident.