Dreamworld shutting down ride after tragedy

Queensland Emergency service personnel inspecting the scene of an accident at the Dreamworld theme park, in Coomera, on the Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia. The Thunder River Rapids amusement ride will be demolished following the accident in which
Queensland Emergency service personnel inspecting the scene of an accident at the Dreamworld theme park, in Coomera, on the Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia. The Thunder River Rapids amusement ride will be demolished following the accident in which four people were killed on Oct 25, 2016.PHOTO: EPA

SYDNEY • An Australian theme park will demolish a water ride that killed four people, and has ordered an independent safety review of all its attractions.

Two women and two men died when rafts on the Thunder River Rapids ride at the hugely popular Dreamworld tourist attraction on the Gold Coast collided and the one carrying the victims overturned on Oct 25.

Ardent Leisure, which owns the theme park and came in for heavy criticism for the way it handled the tragedy, yesterday said the ride would be shut down.

"Out of respect for the memories of Cindy Low, Roozbeh Araghi, Kate Goodchild and Luke Dorsett, and their deeply affected families, the ride will be permanently decommissioned," said chief executive Deborah Thomas.

"The closure of the ride is the only respectful and appropriate course of action."

She added that a permanent memorial was planned, with input from the families of the dead.

A charity group authorised by the Gold Coast City Council has raised more than A$200,000 (S$213,000) in an appeal to provide relief to the immediate and emergent needs of the families of those killed at the theme park.

Police wrapped up their investigations earlier this week and handed back control of the park to management, but Dreamworld is yet to announce when it will reopen.

In the aftermath of the accident, the Australian Workers Union said it had voiced concerns about the operation and maintenance of some equipment at Dreamworld last year, while the Australian media reported alleged safety mishaps.

Dreamworld is conducting its own internal review of what went wrong and on Tuesday announced a fully independent external investigation of all its rides and operating systems by a mechanical engineering firm.

Dreamworld management said it was also working with workplace health and safety officials and no ride would operate until all reviews were completed.

The park, Australia's biggest, has hosted 30 million people since its opening in 1981 and last month's disaster was its first fatal accident.

The Australian Financial Review said the park is losing an estimated A$300,000 per day while it remains closed.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 10, 2016, with the headline 'Dreamworld shutting down ride after tragedy'. Print Edition | Subscribe