A barge carrying fireworks caught fire during New Year's celebrations in Australia.

Credit: 7News

The 9pm firework display at Terrigal beach on the New South Wales Central Coast ended in disaster as the barge full of fireworks burst into flames.

Witnesses reported fireworks flying in all directions, including horizontally in the direction of the crowds.

Two pyrotechnicians were forced to jump from the barge into the water for safety, with both men later taken to hospital where they were treated for minor injuries. The boat's owner, Milton Skinner, said the men were 'a bit shaken up' but would be well enough to return to work in a few days.

According to local news reports, thousands of people fled, including young children, but no one is reported to have been seriously injured.

Sixteen-year-old Joja Petfield told 9News: "It hit me in the hand. Thank God it did not hit me anywhere else, in the eye or something."

Event organiser David Limbert told 9News: "It was just a very freak, unfortunate accident that marred a really particularly brilliant night for Terrigal.

"It was an amazing experience to witness it, but it wasn't meant to be like that, and thank God no one got hurt."

Shocking footage of the moment the barge caught fire has been shared on social media, with people claiming fireworks were 'going everywhere' at one point. Another described the scene as 'absolute chaos'.

Organisers, It's Time For Terrigal, shared a long post on their Facebook page explaining what happened, saying the operators 'believe an ordinance exploded in a canister which caused multiple detonations', but that many stories appearing online about the barge 'exploding' were exaggerated.

It continued: "While it wasn't the desired end of what was otherwise a brilliant night, I am proud of what we have accomplished."

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