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"Everyone was screaming" - Tragedy as four die at theme park in Australia

All of the deceased were adults aged between 32 and their early 40s.

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FOUR PEOPLE HAVE died in an incident at a theme park on Australia’s popular Gold Coast.

Queensland Police said they were dealing with a “critical incident” at Dreamworld and have confirmed that four people have died.

The incident occurred on the water-based Thunder River Rapids ride.

Police say they were called to the scene at about 2.20pm local-time following reports that a number of people had been injured by a conveyor belt.

“I am able to confirm at this point that four adult persons have lost their lives as a result of the incident,” Queensland Police spokesman Todd Reid told reporters.

Queensland Ambulance official Gavin Fuller said the victim were two men and two women, aged between 32 and their early 40s. Their nationalities were not revealed.

The Thunder River Rapids ride uses a conveyor belt and six-person circular rafts.

One person was understood to be trapped in the conveyor belt and three others injured with emergency services at the scene.

The ride “sustained some sort of malfunction, causing two people to be ejected from the ride, another two people were caught inside the ride”, Fuller told reporters.

Theme Park workers are understood to have tried to drain the water on the ride in an attempt to save the lives of those trapped.

Dreamworld said in a statement that it was “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.

The park was closed and will remain shut tomorrow.

Witnesses have described how “everyone was screaming” after the raft apparently flipped.

“We saw (a) little girl and we believe it was her mum because it was just her and her little sister that was an infant,” Lia Capes told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

I was speaking to one of the guys and he said it was the raft or the boat thing in front of him, the whole thing flipped and everyone was screaming.

Another witness, who did not want to be named, told the Gold Coast Bulletin:

My sister and niece were on the ride, they are so traumatised, there is a woman hanging by her foot, crushed from the ride.

The Thunder River Rapids ride is described as a family-friendly “white water rafting” experience, where people “travel down a foamy water track past the Gold Rush Country, speeding up to 45 kph through the turbulent rapids”.

- With reporting by © – AFP 2016

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Rónán Duffy

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