SYDNEY: One person was in a critical condition Monday and 11 others were battling serious injuries after a car at a drag racing event in Australia sprayed burning fuel over the shocked crowd.
The incident happened at the Red CentreNATS event in Alice Springs on Sunday, with footage taken by spectators showing fuel igniting and flames being thrown over fans from a car skidding in circles.
"Twelve patients are currently being treated at Alice Springs Hospital. One patient is in a critical condition and the remaining 11 are in a serious but stable condition," organisers said in a statement.
"This is a distressing situation, however all patients are receiving the care they need."
Witness Chris Dess described "a massive fireball" coming from the back of the car.
He told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation one man was "just standing there in shock, he was charred, and then fell to the ground and you could see skin melting off him".
"We watched another lady who'd come running out of the fireball and her hair was all melted and she was standing there patting it all down," he added.
"We all stood there in a bit of shock, and then we all kicked in trying to help the poor gentleman who was on the ground."
Paramedic Warren Purse told the Northern Territory News one victim was still alight when emergency crews arrived.
"The crowd was phenomenal," he said. "I said, 'I need some water' and bottles were coming in from everywhere."
Billed as the "Ultimate Festival of Wheels", the event attracts thousands of motoring enthusiasts to central Australia for a weekend of racing and entertainment. Organisers shut down the event after the incident, with police and fire authorities investigating.
Northern Territory Chief Minister Michael Gunner said that despite the tragedy, he hoped the event would take place again next year.
"We will be doing everything we can to ensure we learn from what had occurred and next year’s event is conducted as safely as possible," he told reporters.
"I think it’s important we don’t take knee jerk reactions to this, that we take a deep breath, we look at what has occurred and respond to that."