Two women and two men were killed at a theme park on Australia’s popular Gold Coast yesterday, with witnesses saying everyone was screaming after a raft flipped on a water ride.
Queensland police said the victims died on the Thunder River Rapids ride at the Dream world park.
Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull offered prayers to their families over what he called a very sad and tragic event.
“Four adults have lost their lives as a result of the incident,” Queensland Police spokesman Todd Reid said.
The victims were two men, aged 35 and 38, and two women, aged 32 and 42.
Investigators were notifying their next of kin and no names or nationalities were released.
The ride, which has circular rafts that can accommodate six people, sustained “some sort of malfunction, causing two people to be ejected from the ride, with two others being caught inside the ride”, Reid said.
The Gold Coast Bulletin news paper reported that water was drained from the attraction in an effort to save the trapped victims, but to no avail.
A Dreamworld spokesman said the theme park was working as quickly as possible with emergency authorities and the police to establish the facts around the incident.
Dreamworld, Australia’s biggest theme park with more than40 rides and attractions, would be closed until further notice, the spokesman said.
A witness, who was about to goon the ride, said everyone was screaming after a raft flipped.
“We saw [a] little girl. We believe it was her mom [who died], because it was just her and her little sister, who was an infant,” Lia Capes said.
“I was speaking to one of the guys and he said it was the raft or the boat thing in front of him, the whole thing flipped and everyone was screaming.”
Another witness, who did not want to be named, said: “My sister and niece were on the ride, they are so traumatised, there is a woman hanging by her foot, crushed from the ride.”
Turnbull vowed a thorough investigation into the accident. The Thunder River Rapids ride is promoted as a family friendly white water rafting experience, where people travel down a foamy water track through the turbulent rapids.