Four people have been killed at Dreamworld, the largest theme park on Queensland’s Gold Coast.
Police were called to the site at Coomera around 2.20pm following reports that a number of people had been injured by a conveyor belt.
After two hours on the scene, they confirmed that four adults, two men, and two women, have been killed.
The deaths occurred on the Thunder River Rapids, which is described as white water rafting for the family, “speeding up to 45 km/h through the turbulent rapids”.
The ride first opened nearly 30 years ago in December 1986. Each “raft” carries six people. One is believed to have flipped on the conveyor belt.
The four dead are aged between 32 and their early 40s. Police say they have not yet identified all of them.
A crime scene has been established.
“This is now a coronial investigation,” Queensland police inspector Todd Reid said.
“Workplace health and safety officers and the forensic crash unit of Queensland police in attendance along with state coroner.
“We are working with the park to try and determine how this tragic incident has occurred.”
He could not comment on whether the people were related until the next of kin have been advised.
Dreamworld CEO Craig Davidson said the park is now closed until further notice.
“Dreamworld is working closely with police and emergency services and authorities to establish the facts around the incident,” he said.
“We are deeply shocked and saddened by this and our hearts and our thoughts go to the families involved and to their loved ones.”
Gavin Fuller from the Queensland ambulance service said the injuries the four sustained “were incompatible with living”.
He said two people were ejected from the ride, while the other two were trapped on it.
Staff were rendering first aid when paramedics first arrived.
Queensland premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said she was told “it was a horrific scene”.
“I understand there were many witnesses,” she said, adding that the hearts of all Queenslanders went out to the victims and their families.
“Everyone is in deep shock that this has actually happened at one of our most popular theme parks.”
Prime minister Malcolm Turnbull issued the following statement:
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.
Shares in Dreamworld’s parent company, ASX-listed Ardent Leisure, fell 7.84% on news of the tragedy, to close at $2.35.
The company, which also owns Whitewater World, Skypoint and AMF bowling centres, issued a statement to the ASX saying Dreamworld will remain closed on Wednesday “as a mark of respect for the victims and their families”.
“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,” the statement said.
Ardent Leisure’s CEO is former magazines boss Deborah Thomas, who joined the board nearly three years ago, before being appointed CEO in April 2015.
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