Four Die on Fun Ride at Dreamworld on Australia’s Gold Coast

  • Park operator Ardent Leisure falls 7.8% in Sydney trading
  • Two thrown from high-speed water ride, while two were trapped

Four people died Tuesday on a water ride at Ardent Leisure Group’s Dreamworld in Australia’s Queensland state, the nation’s deadliest theme-park incident in almost 40 years.

Two men and two women -- aged from 32 to their early 40s -- died on the Thunder River Rapids ride at the Gold Coast park, an ambulance service spokesman said. Two of the victims were thrown from the ride and two were left trapped. Dreamworld is “working as quickly as possible to establish the facts around the incident,” it said in a statement.

Ardent plunged 7.8 percent in Sydney trading after the news broke, slicing the company’s market value to A$1.1 billion ($840 million). Dreamworld is the biggest park on the Gold Coast, a holiday destination known for its beaches and surf. 

The Thunder River Rapids ride propels up to six people at a time down a foaming water track at up to 45 kilometers an hour (28 miles an hour), according to Dreamworld’s website.

Park staff gave first aid to the victims before emergency services arrived, the ambulance spokesman said.

“This is a very sad day for our city,” Gold Coast Mayor Tom Tate said in a statement on Facebook. “I urge everyone to show the respect needed as the relevant authorities undertake investigations into what has occurred.”

A fire on June 9, 1979 at Luna Park in Sydney destroyed the amusement park’s ghost train and killed six children and one adult. The fire forced the park to close until 1982, when it reopened under new owners.

Ardent Leisure also owns and operates the SkyPoint observation deck in Queensland, Kingpin bowling centers and 76 health clubs across Australia. Its assets also include 27 Main Event family entertainment sites in the U.S., according to the company’s latest annual report.

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