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Human Interest

4 Killed After Waterslide Malfunctions at Australian Amusement Park

Updated

Four people were killed while riding a water rapids attraction at Australian’s biggest theme park Tuesday afternoon.

Ambulance service official Gavin Fuller said two victims were thrown from their raft and two others became trapped inside after a “malfunction” on the Thunder River Rapids ride at Dreamworld on Queensland’s Gold Coast, 35 miles south of Brisbane on the eastern coast of Australia.

Queensland police investigator announced the victims are a 42-year-old woman, a 38-year-old man, a 35-year-old man and a 32-year-old woman, the New York Times reports.

TERTIUS PICKARD/AFP/Getty Images
TERTIUS PICKARD/AFP/Getty Images

Gold Coast Inspector Tod Reid said police would remain on site for a significant amount of time to assist in both the investigation and the recovery of the four bodies.

“There is CCTV footage available and that will be reviewed as part of the investigation,” Reid said.

Reid would not confirm whether any of the victims were related, saying police were in the process of notifying next of kin.

He added he was not aware of any previously known problems with the ride, although that would be part of the investigation.

However, a witness told 9NEWS there had been problems on the attraction earlier in the day, and they had waited while engineers were called and the water was drained and refilled.

Jason O’Brien/Getty Images
Jason O'Brien/Getty Images

Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull expressed his condolences for the victims and their families.

“Theme parks are a place for family fun and happiness, not tragedy,” he said, according to the Australian Broadcasting Company. “This is a very, very sad and tragic event. Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of those who lost their lives.”

Dreamworld bills itself as Australia’s biggest theme park with more than 50 rides and attractions. The park lists Thunder River Rapids under “family rides” on their website, describing it was a “moderate thrill” where riders are pushed down a “foamy water track” at up to 45 km/h (equivalent to about 30 mph).

An update to Dreamworld’s Facebook page and website said they would be “closed until further notice” due to an “incident at the park.”

“We are deeply shocked and saddened by the incident; our hearts and thoughts go out to the families involved and their loved ones,” the post reads.

In August, 10-year-old Caleb Schwab died of a “neck injury” at Schlitterbahn Water Park in Kansas City. The boy was found dead at the bottom of the slide in the pool and police confirmed that he had been decapitated.

The slide’s scheduled 2014 opening was delayed multiple times due to glitches, including one issue that caused water rafts to fly off the slide and into the air.