Australia’s Dreamworld confirms four people were killed in a Thunder River Rapids ride accident today.
Police said that the Dreamworld accident, which occurred at around 2:20 pm in the Gold Coast metropolitan area in Queensland, caused four adults to die just when the theme park ride was about to end.
Telegraph UK reports that six people were seated on the ride when one of the cars tumbled over, resulting to what was described as an “horrific scene.”
The Dreamworld accident left two women and two men dead, aged between 32 and their early 40s, and are believed to belong in the same extended family.
Gavin Fuller, a spokesman for the Queensland Ambulance Service, said in a news conference that there was “some sort of malfunction causing two people to be ejected” from the ride. The other two victims were “caught inside the ride,” he said.
Fuller added that members of Dreamworld park’s staff administered first aid to the victims before paramedics arrived at the scene.
The Queensland Police Service issued a statement saying that police officers had been called to Dreamworld following reports that “a number of people had been injured by a conveyor belt.”
Queensland police inspector Tod Reid said that the Dreamworld accident is currently being investigated and that he could not confirm the victims’ names and whether they are related.
Dreamworld chief executive Craig Davidson said in a statement that he was “deeply shocked and saddened by this and our hearts and our thoughts go to the families involved and to their loved ones.”
The Dreamworld deaths were so disturbing that the ambulance staff were “deeply affected” by the incident, and were offered counseling as a result, as reported by Standard UK.
A woman said that a girl was spotted crying hysterically that her mother had been caught in the gondola ride.
“There were just police and lifeguards everywhere. I spoke to a guy and he said he looked behind and the whole thing has flipped over,” she said.
U.S. Olympics 1500m gold medalist Matthew Centrowitz tweeted that he was at the Gold Coast theme park at the time and wrote that the tragedy happened 15 minutes after he was on the ride.
A man who requested not to be named told the Brisbane Courier Mail that a girl was pulled from one of the cars just before the Thunder River Rapids ride capsized.
Leah Capes, another witness, said that “the kids and people in there were screaming.”
“It all happened so quickly. There were heaps of people crying, it all happened so fast.”
Australia’s prime minister Malcolm Turnbull issued a statement to offer condolences to the affected families in the wake of the Dreamworld deaths.
“This is a very, very sad and tragic event. Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of those who lost their lives.
“Theme parks are a place for family fun and happiness, not tragedy.
“We trust there will be a very thorough investigation into the causes of this incident in the days that follow.”
Gold Coast mayor Tom Tate said it was a “very sad day for our city.”
“Our thoughts are with the families of those affected – and the emergency staff in attendance,” the Gold Coast mayor said.
“I urge everyone to show the respect needed as the relevant authorities undertake investigations in to what has occurred. A truly sad day for all.”
Dreamworld is around 35 miles south of Brisbane, and is considered the country’s most popular theme park, according to Australian news media. With more than 40 rides and attractions, the large theme park has the biggest and fastest rides in the country. It is owned by entertainment operator Ardent Leisure Group.
[Featured Image by Australian Broadcasting Corporation/AP Images]