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Four killed in tragic incident on Dreamworld’s Thunder River Rapids ride

Four killed in tragic incident on Dreamworld’s Thunder River Rapids ride
October 25, 2016

Four people have been killed after an incident on the Thunder River Rapids ride at Dreamworld on the Gold Coast.

Witnesses have reported that one of the rafts on the popular ride flipped and crushed the guests riding.

As of 4pm today Dreamworld has confirmed "at least three fatalities" had occured.

In a statement Dreamworld advised "Dreamworld confirms there has been at least three fatalities at its theme park in Queensland today.

"Dreamworld is working as quickly as possible to establish the facts around the incident and is working closely with emergency authorities and police to do this.

"Dreamworld's focus and priority is with the families of those involved in this tragedy and will be providing an update to the public as soon as information becomes available."

As of 5pm, Queensland Ambulance officials fronted media confirming that the deceased were two males and two females aged "between 32 and early 40s".

Their identities would not be released until their next of kind had been informed.

Gavin Fuller, Acting Senior Operations Supervisor for Queensland Ambulance, said there had been "some sort of malfunction" on the ride, and that two people had been ejected.

Another two had been caught inside the ride, and all four had, according to Fuller, "sustained injuries which were incompatible with living".

Commenting on the incident, Australasian Leisure Management Publisher Nigel Benton stated "in the 20 years that we have featured and reported on Dreamworld I have always been aware of the fundamental and thorough commitment to safety that runs through all staff and all of the park's operations.

"Dreamworld's reputation for safety is world class and seen as an example to follow by theme parks around the world."

Benton added that "overall Australia's theme parks have an exemplary safety record delivered as a result of thorough testing and inspections so this unfortunate incident must be a huge blow to all involved."

One of Dreamworld's most popular rides, the six person raft ride is described on Dreamworld's website as a "moderate thrill".

Thunder River Rapids opened at Dreamworld in 1986 as part of Gold Rush Country (now known as the Town of Gold Rush) which also featured the Eureka Mountain Mine Ride.

One of the most original areas of Dreamworld, the Town of Gold Rush was given an upgrade in 2011 with the opening of the BuzzSaw thrill ride, taking the park's 'Big 6' thrill rides to a 'Big 7'.

River rapids rides similar to Dreamworld's Thunder River Rapids feature in amusement and theme parks around the world, supplied by several manufacturers.

However, it would appear that Dreamworld’s ride was largely built in-house with possible input from contracted engineering companies.

Swiss company Intamin AG, the manufacturer most closely with this type of ride, have distanced themselves from the Dreamworld ride, issuing the following statement on their website: "Like everyone in our industry, we are shocked and saddened about the tragic event at Dreamworld. 

“Please be informed that this ride was neither built by Intamin nor supplied by Intamin.

“We are therefore not in the position to make any comment (on this incident)."

The tragedy is the worst Australian theme park disaster since 1979, when seven people died in a fire on the Ghost Train at Luna Park Sydney.

Article originally published as Fatalaties feared after incident on Dreamworld's Thunder River Rapids ride. Updated 11pm, 25th October 2016. The original article stated 'There are reports a mother, father, uncle and child were on the ride. Queensland Police have advised that they are "managing a critical incident" at the theme park. Paramedics and Fire and Rescue units are at the scene, as well as Workplace Health and Safety officials.'

Images of the Thunder River Rapids ride used for illustrative purposes only.

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