In Australia, five children have been killed, and a number of others seriously injured, after a bouncy castle was blown into the air by a strong gust of wind.
According to Australian authorities the accident occurred during a primary school fun day in Devonport, Tasmania.
On 16 December, police said that a gust of wind caused a bouncy castle to be blown into the air, and that children fell from a height of around 32ft.
Five children have been confirmed to have died in the accident. It’s unclear how many children were playing on the castle when it was lifted into the air, however it was reported that a number children had been taken to hospital, with some in critical condition.
Since the accident, three children have remained in critical condition, with one injured child discharged from hospital.
Paramedics arrived at Hillcrest Primary School at around 10am local time after the accident occurred.
The children were initially given first aid at the scene before being transported to hospital via helicopter.
Parents were informed of the incident immediately afterwards.
Speaking to local news, one parent said: “You wouldn’t dream a fun activity day would end like this.
“We all feel so heartbroken for the parents involved. And feel guilty that we are also relieved our children were not injured.”
Who are the victims?
Police have identified the five children who died in the accident:
- Addison Stewart, 11
- Zane Mellor, 12
- Jye Sheehan, 12
- Jalailah Jayne-Maree Jones, 12
- Peter Dodt, 12
Authorities have said that the parents of the victims do not wish to speak publicly, however other relatives have posted their tributes online.
Tamara Scott, Peter Dodt’s aunt, wrote that he “was full of life and adventures”.
Meg Aherne, one of Addison Stewart’s aunts, said: “I don’t even know what to write at this stage. Everyone is devastated, she was always such a sweet, kind, old soul.”
A family friend of Zane Mellor described the young boy as a “beautiful, caring, gentle soul”.
What have the authorities said?
Tasmanian Police Commissioner Darren Hine said that “a wind gust had reportedly caused the jumping castle and inflatable balls to lift into the air”.
He said: “On a day when these children were meant to be celebrating the last day of primary school, instead we’re all mourning their loss.
“Our hearts are breaking for the families and the loved ones, schoolmates, teachers of these young people who were taken too soon.
“Our thoughts are also with those emergency services personnel who attended to try and save these people’s lives.”
It’s still unclear as to how the accident occurred as the wind speeds recorded that day were considered average.
“We all have a lot of questions,” Hine said.
Hine said that an investigation into the incident is underway, and that a coroner has already visited the scene. Police will also prepare a report for the coroner, in conjunction with WorkSafe Tasmania.
Commander Debbie Williams also spoke at the school, where she called the scene “distressing”.
She said: “This is a very tragic event and our thoughts are with the families and the wider school community, and also our first responders.
“There is no doubt that this has been a very confronting and distressing scene.
“Counselling is being made available to the families affected by this in the school community along with the first responders.”
What did Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison say?
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison described the incident as a “freak accident that will leave families completely devastated” and that it was “unthinkably heartbreaking”.
He said: “Young children on a fun day out… and it turns to such horrific tragedy.
“At this time of year, it just breaks your heart.”
Morrison also added: “I just want to say, on behalf of Jen [his wife] and I to the parents, the family and the friends and all who were there, to the other young children who were there and witnessing these events - I just pray that you’ll have a great family around you and great friends and that you’ll be able to come through this.”
Tasmanian premier Peter Gutwein said that the tragedy was “devastating”.
He said: “It’s a difficult time for me to find the right words in such tragic circumstances.
“I’m certain that I speak for all Tasmanians in extending my deepest sympathies to the family, friends and loved ones of everyone affected by today’s tragedy.
“On a day when school children were celebrating the end of term, so close to Christmas. It’s simply inconceivable that this shocking incident has occurred.
“I know that this is a strong and caring community that will stand together and support one another. I know that they will do that with love and kindness to get them through this.”
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