Australia theme park defends safety standards after deaths

2016-10-27 13:08
A makeshift floral tribute is seen at the Dreamworld theme park on the Gold Coast. (Patrick Hamilton/AFP)

A makeshift floral tribute is seen at the Dreamworld theme park on the Gold Coast. (Patrick Hamilton/AFP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Sydney – An Australian theme park defended its safety standards on Thursday following the deaths of four people on a malfunctioning ride, while admitting it had not been in touch with grieving relatives of those killed.

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 on Tuesday, tipping one backwards and crushing or drowning those on board.

A boy and a girl, aged 10 and 12, on the six-person raft miraculously survived the tragedy.

The Australian Workers Union said it had voiced concerns about the operation and maintenance of some equipment at Dreamworld last year, while media reports claimed to have uncovered safety mishaps.

The Sydney Morning Herald alleged the rapids ride had malfunctioned twice in three days recently, while The Australian reported mechanical problems just hours before the accident.

Dreamworld said in a statement that safety was its priority, with the Thunder River Rapids ride passing an annual mechanical and structural test on September 29.

First deaths since 1981 opening

"Dreamworld would like to assure the public and park guests that at the time of the incident the park was fully compliant with all required safety certifications," it said.

"All our procedures and systems are constantly benchmarked against international best practice and ride manufacturer specifications.

"Our rides and slides are checked and tested by our experienced team before the park opens every day. If it's not tested, it doesn't open."

It added that the park, Australia's biggest, had hosted 30 million people since opening in 1981 and had never seen a death until this week.

Police are conducting an investigation and have said that if there was any criminal negligence, charges would be brought.

Dreamworld's parent company Ardent Leisure held its annual general meeting in Sydney with chief executive Deborah Thomas forced to defend herself after admitting she had yet to speak with the relatives of those killed, saying "we didn't know how to contact them".

Mother of victims 'furious'

A journalist told Thomas the mother of two of the victims was watching her live news conference and had sent the reporter a text message saying she was furious no one from Ardent had been in touch.

Thomas replied: "I am very happy to call her very soon after this meeting.

"And on behalf of the staff and management at Ardent and Dreamworld, that our hearts and our thoughts and prayers are with you and your family at this difficult time," she added.

The Ardent chief announced late on Thursday she would donate a cash bonus of A$167 500 that she was awarded at the annual meeting to the Red Cross, which is supporting people affected by the tragedy.

That payment is separate to a more than A$800 000 bonus that Thomas is also due to receive over the next four years, pending her performance.

The park, which has been closed since the incident, was scheduled to re-open for a memorial day on Friday, but this was later cancelled on the advice of police who are still conducting their investigation.

Read more on:    australia  |  accidents

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
NEXT ON NEWS24X

Inside News24

 
/News

Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.