Dozens of people were injured, some severely, after a “tsunami” swallowed up swimmers in the wave pool at a Chinese water park.
As The South China Morning Post reports, an equipment malfunction took place at the Yulong Shuiyun Water Amusement Park, not far from the China-North Korea border. The malfunction created a giant wave that swept across the wave pool. Dozens could be heard screaming, and seen running for safety, in video that was captured of the incident. When the dust had settled, 44 people were injured, including five who required overnight hospital stays for broken ribs. They are said to be in stable condition.
Initial reports were that the incident was caused by an employee in the control room. However, according to a notice from the park management, it was actually an equipment malfunction that caused the giant wave.
“According to the initial stages of the investigation, the incident was caused by a power cut that damaged electronic equipment in the tsunami pool control room, which led to the waves in the tsunami pool becoming too big and injuring people,” the park said.
The park was closed for the day so operators could make repairs. It was expected to reopen the following day.
According to How Stuff Works, water-park wave pools all generally rely on the same mechanical system. The machine introduces a huge volume of water into the deep end of the pool. This creates a surge in water that travels all the way to the shallow end of the pool.
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So precise is the machinery at some wave pools, according to Red Bull, that the waves can be tailored to train surfers. Some of the most sought-after artificial waves in the United States are produced at Walt Disney World’s Typhoon Lagoon theme park, where waves reach as high as six feet. Meanwhile, waves at a Canary Islands water park, Siam Park, can reach as high as 10 feet.
Meanwhile, theme park accidents are relatively rare in countries with tough regulatory controls, but they do happen. For example, as CBC News reports, four people drowned at an Australian theme park in 2016 when a raft on a river-raft ride flipped over at the Dreamworld amusement park on Australia’s Gold Coast. That same year, a water ride at Schlitterbahn in Kansas City, Kansas, malfunctioned, decapitating a 10-year-old boy. And in 1984, eight people were killed when a fire tore through a haunted-house attraction at Six Flags Great Adventure park in Jackson Township, New Jersey.