Tragedy struck the worldrenowned Dreamworld theme park on the Gold Coast of Australia earlier today, when four people died after a ride known as the Thunder River Rapids malfunctioned. The four victims, two men and two women who have not been identified, were aboard the ride's six-person raft when they were flipped over as it traveled down a conveyor belt. Two of the victims were thrown from the raft into the water, while the other two were trapped under the raft.
The Herald Sun reports that police would only identify the victims as 32-year-old and 42-year-old women, and 38-year-old and 35-year-old men. While their identities were not revealed, reports have surfaced that some or all of the victims are related, and that they were on a holiday from Canberra. The authorities were notifying the victim's families of the tragedies on Tuesday night. Here's what Gold Coast mayor Tom Tate had to say in a statement about these tragic deaths.
"It's one of the saddest days in our city. The Gold Coast is renowned for people to come here and have wonderful memories for the rest of their lives. This is the reverse of that. A tragedy like this, it affects us deeply because we cherish making sure we look after our visitors. It is the most emotional day we've had."
There are also reports that a young girl was being consoled at the scene after the incident took place, with a witness stating that the girl was "screaming for her mum." Another witness claimed the raft had flipped at the end of its circuit, and a young girl was pulled from the ride just before it flipped. An additional witness said her sister and niece were on the ride, and saw a woman "hanging from her foot, crushed by the ride."
Other park visitors claimed that the Thunder River Rapids ride had broken down at least two other times that same day. Inspector Tod Reid said that there was also CCTV footage that captured the incident, which will be reviewed in the investigation into this incident. Queensland Ambulance senior operating officer Gavin Fuller stated that members of the park staff had attempted first aid on the victims but they couldn't be saved because their injuries were too severe. Here's what Gavid Fuller had to say in his statement.
"One of the rides have sustained some sort of malfunction. A number of the staff that were here today from Queensland Ambulance have been deeply affected by this terrible accident that has occurred today."
Dreamworld was closed down and evacuated an hour after the accident occurred at approximately 2:20 PM local time. The theme park will remain closed as Workplace Health and Safety officials and police forensic investigators try to determine the cause of the accident. The Thunder River Rapids ride opened at Dreamworld in 1986 and is Australia's only "river rapids ride." Dreamworld was also shut down back in April, after a man fell from the Rocky Hollow Log Ride and nearly drowned. Below we have videos from the news conference held by the authorities at Dreamworld, plus a number of other videos and images from Twitter that you can see below.