Destinations

Dreamworld tragedy raises theme park safety concerns worldwide

Kate Webster

A United States theme park has shut down its river rapids ride in fears of a similar incident to Tuesday’s tragedy at Dreamworld on the Gold Coast.

In a massive wakeup call for theme parks worldwide, the horrific incident and the popular Gold Coast theme park which left four dead and many park goers traumatised has sparked concern for theme parks around the world.

Two men and two women were killed when Dreamworld’s Thunder River Rapids ride overturned on Tuesday afternoon. Two of the riders drowned in the water and two others were crushed in the ride’s machinery when their raft collided with a second stationary raft.

Officials for Busch Gardens theme park in Tampa Bay, Florida, said the Congo River Rapids ride was closed “out of an abundance of caution” until officials in Queensland determined what caused four people to die on Dreamworld’s similar Thunder River Rapids ride, according to FOX 13.

“We have made the decision to close our Congo River Rapids ride while we work with other park operators and ride manufacturers to understand what happened in Australia,” Busch Gardens spokeswoman Karen Varga-Sinka said.

Dreamworld is not the first theme park to experience such tragedy.

Sydney’s Luna Park experienced tragedy when six children and one adult died when the Ghost Train caught fire in 1979. An electrical fault was blamed for sparking the inferno but rumours have long persisted that it was deliberately lit.

In August 2016, Caleb Schwab, 10, was decapitated while riding on the 51-metre-high Verruckt attraction at Schlitterbahn Waterpark in Kansas City, as horrified witnesses looked on.

Victoria Balch and Leah Washington had to have both legs amputated after a car on The Smiler ride at Alton Towers collided with an empty one in front of it back in June 2015.

The list goes on.

With 100 more ride accidents this year compared to last worldwide, the question is being raised, how safe are theme park rides?

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