AUSTRALIA — Four adults have been killed in an accident at a theme park on Tuesday in Queensland, Australia, Queensland Police said in a statement.
The incident happened at the Dreamworld theme park on the state’s Gold Coast.
“Police are currently investigating an incident that occurred this afternoon at a theme park on the Gold Coast,” the statement read. “Police were called to the site at Coomera around 2.20 p.m. (12:20 a.m. ET) following reports that a number of people had been injured by a conveyor belt.”
Two people were thrown from the Thunder River Rapids Ride, police told reporters, and another two trapped, possibly in the conveyor belt system.
The ride malfunctioned, pinning people underneath, Gavin Fuller, Acting Senior Operations Supervisor for Queensland Ambulance Service, said at a press conference.
“One of the rides had sustained some sort of malfunction, causing two people to be ejected from a ride, another two people were caught inside the ride,” Fuller said.
Fuller said the victims were two males and two females aged “between 32 and early 40s.” They had “sustained injuries which were incompatible with living,” he said, adding that “a number” of staff from the ambulance service had been “deeply affected by this terrible incident.”
A “crime scene has been established,” Todd Reid, an inspector and regional duty officer from Queensland Police, who also spoke at the news conference.
Craig Davidson, CEO of Dreamworld announced at the news conference that the theme park has been closed following the “tragic” incident.
“Dreamworld confirms that at approx. 2:20 p.m. (12:20 a.m. ET) today an incident occurred on the Thunder River Rapids ride, resulting in the tragic deaths of four people.
“At this stage the park is closed and Dreamworld is working closely with police and emergency service to establish the facts around the incident. We are deeply shocked and saddened by this and our hearts and our thoughts go to the families involved and to their loved ones,” Davidson said at the news conference.
US Olympian Matthew Centrowitz tweeted that he had just stepped off the ride when he learned that there were injuries.
“Dude! Just got off a ride 15 mins ago that has 1 person seriously injured & 2 others trapped. #Dreamworld,” the track star’s tweet read. The death toll was updated after Centrowitz’ tweet had been posted.
The Australian Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull, says he is “very saddened” by the “tragic accident.”
“I’m very saddened to learn of the tragic accident at Dreamworld earlier today. 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. 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,” a statement on his official website said.
Opposition Labor party leader Bill Shorten tweeted his condolences to the families of those affected by the incident.
“Heartbreaking news from Dreamworld. Sending our love to the families of those who lost their lives in this devastating tragedy,” he wrote.
Gold Coast Mayor Tom Tate said that the incident marked “a very sad day for our city.”
“Our thoughts are with the families of those affected and the emergency staff in attendance.
“I urge everyone to show the respect needed as the relevant authorities undertake investigations in to what has occurred. A truly sad day for all.”
Billed as a family ride, the Thunder River Rapids Ride has had problems in the past, including one almost-fatal incident in April, according to a report by CNN affiliate Seven News.