School science experiment: Reason for explosion at Manly West Public revealed

First responders have revealed the likely reason a science experiment at a Sydney school ended in an explosion and led to a 10-year-old girl being flown 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 about 1pm on Monday.

Eleven children aged around 10 years old and one adult were impacted by the “Hazmat incident”, with reports it was caused by a science experiment gone wrong.

It’s understood the incident occurred during a “black worm” experiment that involves using accelerant to set baking soda and sugar alight.

NSW Ambulance said Monday’s high winds were partially to blame for the experiment gone wrong for the year 5 class.

“We received multiple triple-0 calls reporting that a number of children had sustained burns during a science experiment, which was being conducted outside,” NSW Ambulance Acting Superintendent Phil Templeman said.

“Today’s high winds have impacted the experiment and blown some of the materials around.”

The most seriously injured child, a young girl, suffered multiple burns to her body and was flown to The Children’s Hospital at Westmead in a stable condition after receiving treatment from CareFlight’s specialist doctor and a NSW Ambulance critical care paramedic.

Another was taken to the same hospital in an ambulance, with a specialist medical team treating serious burns.

Five children were taken to Royal North Shore Hospital and four were taken to Northern Beaches Hospital with superficial burns.

The adult patient was taken to Northern Beaches Hospital in a stable condition.

NSW Ambulance said the incident required a “huge response” from paramedics.

“The children have sustained burns to the upper body, chest, face and legs; thankfully, the majority of the students were not badly injured,” Mr Templeman said.

NSW Education Minister Sarah Mitchell offered support from the state government in the wake of the incident.

“My thoughts are with the students and staff affected by today’s incident at Manly West Public School,” Ms Mitchell said.

“I have spoken with the principal this afternoon to offer my support to the entire school community, and I want to particularly thank and acknowledge all of the school staff who acted so quickly to provide first aid and call emergency services.

“We will provide whatever resources the school community needs in the coming days, including counselling for students and staff.

“Investigations into the incident will be undertaken by the relevant authorities, including the Department of Education and NSW Police. In addition, SafeWork NSW has been notified and they will carry out their own investigation in due course.”

Wellbeing support is being provided to impacted students and staff.

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