Four killed on river rapids ride at theme park
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.
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.