CRITICAL: Four Grosvenor miners fight for their lives
UPDATE 6.30PM: A SENIOR medical officer who just happened to be in Moranbah when Wednesday's Grosvenor coalmine explosion happened has been hailed a hero.
Deborah Simmons. an anaesthetist with Mackay Hospital and Health Service, had just left Moranbah Hospital after training staff for COVID-19 when she got a call there had been an explosion.
"It was just lucky that I was in the area at the time," she said today.
"We just had about 15 minutes to get ready for those patients coming in.
"As an anaesthetist myself I know that with facial burns and airway burns that the priority is trying to intubate these patients to make sure they've got a breathing tube down, otherwise their airways swell up very quickly."
Dr Simmons said four of the five men were intubated and they were all given pain medication and prepared for an airlift to Brisbane.
She praised the hospital's nursing staff "who went above and beyond what they would normally have to deal with."
Mines Minister Dr Anthony Lynham described Dr Simmons the nursing staff as "heroes for what they did last night".
One of the miners left badly injured in a central Queensland worksite explosion has begun to show signs of improvement as his four other colleagues continue to fight for their lives.
The 44-year-old man was in a serious condition when he was flown to Royal Brisbane and Women's Hospital last night after an underground explosion rocked the Anglo American Grosvenor Mine near Moranbah.
He has since improved and is now stable.
His four colleagues - aged 43, 45, and two aged 51 - remain in a critical condition.
UPDATE 1.30PM: Isaac Mayor Anne Baker has recounted the "eerie" sound of jets flying over her home to transport the injured mine workers to hospital last night.
Cr Baker was in a skype meeting when the sad news broke of the tragedy yesterday afternoon.
"I got a call, which I couldn't take, and the number called again and again and I then knew that something really was quite urgent, so I excused myself and got the news," she said.
"My residence is in the flight path for when the planes come in - last night was quite eerie to hear.
"Normally when there's an accident, the wider community hears the RACQ helicopter.
"Last night it was not just the helicopter, it was the Royal Flying Doctor Service and the planes."
Cr Baker said her initial reaction was one of "sadness and shock".
She said mining tragedies caused a ripple effect in tightknit communities like hers.
"In this day and age, to have continual accidents in the industry is concerning," she said.
"Our hearts and minds at this time are with the injured underground miners, their families and crew members."
1PM: Mackay Mayor Greg Williamson said yesterday's horrific mine explosion would be felt right across the tight-knit mining community.
"The resources sector actually supplies a huge underpinning of our economy.
"It's a close-knit community and we call recognise they work in a very intensive environment to deliver a massive outcome for Australia in terms of our economy.
"They pay a huge amount of attention to safety, and rightly so, so when something like this happens, it really does tear at the heart strings of the whole community because it is a reminder of the sector they work in and that has an inherent risk every day.
"I'm sure there will be an inquiry to get to the bottom of it.
"But really, we're dealing with the miners now, and their families and the community who we have got to get solid as one and say, we are with you.
"We recognise the tremendous hurt that comes from an incident like this."
8.30AM: Four miners remain critical and a fifth is in a serious condition after a mine explosion at Grosvenor Mine yesterday.
An Anglo American spokeswoman said operations at the site remain suspended this morning.
She said the company was working with authorities to ensure the mine was safe to be accessed underground to launch an investigation.
The cause of the tragedy is still unknown.
Anglo American metallurgical coal business chief executive Tyler Mitchelson said the company's focus was on supporting the injured workers and their families.
"We are all devasted and we don't yet understand what caused this incident. Once it is safe to return underground, we will commence an expert technical investigation to ensure we understand what has happened," Mr Mitchelson said.
"We will then work with our regulators and other stakeholders to ensure this type of incident never happens again.
"I would like to sincerely thank the first responders, mines rescue teams and all of the medical personnel involved in helping the injured people."
An RACQ spokeswoman said the service flew three patients injured in the mine explosion to Brisbane last night by a fleet of RACQ Lifeflight Rescue Air Ambulance jets.
The trio of jets was airborne within 90 minutes of being tasked and arrived at Moranbah Airport, south-west of Mackay, shortly after.
The aeromedical teams worked with local Queensland Ambulance Service (QAS) personnel to transfer the patients, from the hospital where they were initially treated, to the waiting aircraft.
The jets - a Learjet and a Challenger 604 from Townsville, along with a Challenger 604 from Brisbane - each flew an injured patient back to Brisbane Airport.
They were then transported by QAS teams to hospital.
7AM: FOUR miners seriously injured in an underground mine explosion remain in a critical condition while a fifth has stabilised overnight.
The four men suffered burns to the upper torso and airways.
They have been intubated and are on ventilators undergoing treatment in Royal Brisbane and Women's Hospital.
A fifth man is in a serious condition.
OVERNIGHT: THE Queensland mining industry has been rocked by one of the biggest mining disasters in recent history after five workers were critically injured in an explosion.
An ignition of gas is believed to have caused the explosion, which occurred underground at Anglo American's Grosvenor Mine near Moranbah about 3.15pm yesterday.
Paramedics were called to treat the five people for serious burns before they were taken to Moranbah Hospital.
The injured patients were expected to be flown to the Royal Brisbane Women's Hospital last night.
The tragedy sparked an outpouring of sympathy from the community, with Mackay MP Julieanne Gilbert describing it as "terrible".
"I'm thinking of these workers, their families and colleagues," Mrs Gilbert said.
"Everyone deserves to be safe at work."
Burdekin MP Dale Last, who was in the mining community of Middlemount yesterday when the incident unfolded, said it sent shockwaves through the industry.
"Everyone was very sombre, very concerned," he said.
"My thoughts and prayers are with the injured miners, their family and friends.
"It has come as a big shock to the resource sector, which is a very close-knit community."
Union safety inspectors have visited the site and will conduct an independent investigation.
CFMEU Mining and Energy Queensland district president Stephen Smyth said the immediate priority was taking care of affected workers.
"Our thoughts and prayers are with the injured workers and their families, and all the workers at Grosvenor affected by today's events," he said.
"The union will do everything possible to support a return to safe conditions at the mine and get to the bottom of what has occurred today.
"Explosions are the worst nightmare for underground coal miners; we will make sure no stone is left unturned."
An Anglo American spokeswoman said the company had contacted all the injured workers' families.
"All remaining onsite personnel have been accounted for. The mine is in the process of being evacuated and operations stopped," the spokeswoman said.
"The mines inspectorate has been contacted and Anglo American is working to ensure the injured people have the best available medical care."
It has been almost four months since the last major Queensland mining incident after Donald Rabbitt's death at a Blackwater mine.
Before that, there were seven deaths in the state's mines and quarry industry within 18 months.
WITH: Patrick Billings, Cormac Pearson, Elise Williams & Jack McKay
TIMELINE OF TRAGEDY
Jan 12, 2020: Donald Rabbitt, 33, died at Curragh coalmine near Blackwater when he was crushed by a low-loader while changing a tyre.
Nov 25, 2019: Brad Duxbury, 57 died at Carborough Downs coalmine at Coppabella.
July 7, 2019: Jack Gerdes, 27, became entangled in stairs while working on machinery at Baralaba North coalmine.
June 26, 2019: David Routledge, 55, was fatally injured operating an excavator at the Middlemount coalmine.
Feb 20, 2019: Bradley Hardwick, 48, died at Moranbah North coalmine when a grader collided with a van.
Dec 31, 2018: Allan Houston, 49, died at Saraji coalmine when his bulldozer rolled.
Nov 15, 2018: Connor-Shaye Milne, 21, died at Fairfield quarry at Clermont when he became entangled in a rotating drum on a conveyor belt.
July 29, 2018: Adam Malone, 25, died at Jacks Quarry at Collinsville when his articulated dump truck rolled over.