Four deaths at Australian theme park
Four people have died at a theme park in Australia after a ride they were in malfunctioned.
Kate Goodchild, 32, her brother Luke Dorsett, 35, and his partner Roozbeh Araghi, were killed on the Thunder River Rapids ride at Dreamworld on Queensland’s Gold Coast.
Cindy Low, 42, described as New-Zealand-born Sydney resident, was unknown to the three and was also fatally injured on the ride.
Authorities in Australia said that two rafts on the Thunder River Rapids hit one another at the end of the ride, tipping one backwards.
There were four adults, a 10-year-old boy and a 12-year-old girl on the raft when it flipped over in the collision.
The children – who have been reported by local media as being related to the victims – were thrown free and survived. Queensland assistant police commissioner Brian Codd told reporters that it was “almost a miracle”.
Two of the adults were thrown from the raft, while two were trapped in the machinery.
The ride is marketed as a family-friendly ride with a minimum age restriction of 2 years, with persons under 4 having to be accompanied by someone over the age of 14.
Assistant Commissioner Codd has said that the ride will remain at the theme park for a few days for investigation – and the theme park will remain closed during this time.
An engineering examination is underway and rafts are being examined by a forensics team. Workplace health and safety officers and the coroner are investigating.
According to reports from ABC (Australian Broadcasting Corporation), the Australian Workers Union raised serious concerns about the operation and maintenance of some equipment at the park last year, but they weren’t about the Thunder River Rapid Ride.
Codd, who has examined the CCTV footage of the incident, said that four people had lost their lives through an “apparent misoperation or some catastrophe”.
“There will be a broad range of things examined – policies, procedures, maintenance schedules and the actual make-up of the whole ride itself in terms of compliance about contemporary engineering,” said Codd.
Dreamworld has issued a statement: “Dreamworld is currently closed until further notice due to an incident at the park. We are deeply shocked and saddened by the tragic incident; our hearts and thoughts go out to the families involved and their loved ones.”
Australia’s prime minister, Malcolm Turnbull, released a statement saying he was saddened to hear of the accident.
“Theme parks are a place for family fun and happiness, not tragedy. This is a very, very, sad, tragic event. Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of those who lost their lives,” he said in a statement.
“This is a very sad day, and we trust there will be a thorough investigation into the causes of this accident over the days to follow.”
This incident comes less than a month after theme park operator Merlin Entertainments was fined £5m after a rollercoaster crash at Alton Towers in 2015 left two teenage girls needing leg amputations.