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A man from the Royal Australian Air Force suffered life-threatening third-degree burns after a portable toilet exploded — an incident connected to a U.S.-led military exercise in the area, Australia’s Department of Defence announced Monday.

Officials believe the man was using the portable toilet (also known as a port-a-potty) at Rockhampton Airport, some 300 miles north of the capital Brisbane, in the state of Queensland, when he lit a cigarette.

“There was some sort of explosion,” a Department of Community Safety spokeswoman told Australian newspaper the Courier-Mail. “He suffered burns to his head, face, arms, chest and airways.”

The man, whose identity was not released, was taken to the Rockhampton Hospital in serious condition, the paper reported.

A spokeswoman from Talisman Sabre 2011 — a US-led exercise supported by Australian forces — confirmed the explosion was a military incident, but said no further information was available at this stage.

“I can confirm that an incident has happened but we’re still gathering information,” the spokeswoman told the Courier-Mail.

On Saturday, officials said nine Australian soldiers involved in the exercise were injured, one seriously, when an armored vehicle rolled down an embankment at the Shoalwater Bay Training Area, north of Rockhampton.

And a 60-year-old Australian female bicyclist was critically injured Sunday when she collided with a military vehicle operated by two U.S. sailors.

Talisman Sabre features land, sea and air training throughout Queensland and the Northern Territory, and is designed to improve combat training, readiness and interoperability. This year’s exercise — the fourth Talisman Sabre — involves some 22,000 personnel and runs until July 29.


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