Dreamworld accident: 4 dead in Queensland theme park ride malfunction

(CNN) — Four people were killed at a theme park in Queensland, Australia, on Tuesday when one of the park’s rides malfunctioned, police said.

Two men and two women were pronounced dead by police following an incident on the Thunder River Rapids Ride at the Dreamworld theme park on the state’s Gold Coast.

Police confirmed to reporters that two females, aged 42 and 38, and two males, 35 and 32, had died.

Inspector Tod Reid of the Queensland Police told reporters that “investigations are continuing and we’ve had the forensic pathologists attend the scene and examine the deceased in situ.”

Reid said police were attempting to contact the families of the victims.

“We have specialist police here engaged with witnesses, and that those people are being offered support, along with also the responding police are being offered appropriate support as well,” he said.

A “crime scene has been established,” Reid said.

Police were called to the site at Coomera around 2.20pm (12.20am ET) after reports that “a number of people had been injured by a conveyor belt.”

The ride had 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 had sustained injuries that were not survivable, adding that “a number” of staff from the ambulance service had been “deeply affected by this terrible incident.”

“Crime scene”

Craig Davidson, CEO of Dreamworld announced at the news conference that the theme park has been closed following the “tragic” incident.

“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.

Shocked

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 said he is “very saddened” by the “tragic accident.”

“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.