Four killed on river rapids ride at theme park

Jamaica Gleaner - - INTERNATIONAL NEWS -

SYD­NEY (AP): FOUR PEO­PLe were killed Tues­day after a river rapids ride mal­func­tioned at a pop­u­lar theme park on Aus­tralia’s east coast, of­fi­cials said.

Two men and two women died while on the ride at Dream­world, a park on Queens­land state’s Gold Coast, Queens­land po­lice of­fi­cer Tod Reid told re­porters.

The Thun­der River Rapids ride whisks peo­ple in cir­cu­lar rafts along a fast-mov­ing, man-made river. A mal­func­tion caused two peo­ple to be ejected from their raft, while two oth­ers were caught in­side the ride, said Gavin Fuller, an of­fi­cer with the Queens­land Am­bu­lance Ser­vice. He did not know whether the two vic­tims who were caught in the ride were trapped un­der wa­ter or caught up in the ma­chin­ery.

Park staffers ad­min­is­tered first aid to the vic­tims, but their in­juries proved fa­tal, Fuller told re­porters.

The vic­tims were in their 30s and early 40s, he said.

Dream­world CEO Craig David­son said the park was work­ing with po­lice to try and de­ter­mine what went wrong.

“We are deeply shocked and sad­dened by this, and our hearts and our thoughts go out to the fam­i­lies in­volved and to their loved ones,” David­son told re­porters.

The park was closed fol­low­ing the ac­ci­dent and was ex­pected to re­main closed on Wed­nes­day.

FAM­ILY-FRIENDLY RIDES

Thun­der River is con­sid­ered one of Dream­world’s tamer, fam­ily-friendly rides, and is open to chil­dren as young as two. The park, which has been open since 1981, also fea­tures sev­eral roller coast­ers and the freefall ride ‘The Gi­ant Drop,’ where pas­sen­gers plunge from a height of nearly 120 me­tres (400 feet). In April, the park’s Rocky Hol­low Log Ride was tem­po­rar­ily shut down after a man fell from the ride.

Aus­tralian Prime Min­is­ter Mal­colm Turn­bull said there would be a thor­ough in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the cause of Tues­day’s ac­ci­dent.

“Theme parks are a place for fam­ily fun and hap­pi­ness, not tragedy,” he told re­porters.

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