Australian theme park to demolish deadly Thunder River Rapids ride

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 09 November, 2016, 1:52pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 09 November, 2016, 10:08pm

An Australian theme park on Wednesday said it will demolish a water ride that killed four people, and ordered an independent safety review of all its attractions.

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 October 25.

Ardent Leisure, which owns the theme park and came in for heavy criticism for the way it handled the tragedy, said the ride would be shut down.

“Out of respect for the memories of Cindy Low, Roozbeh Araghi, Kate Goodchild and Luke Dorsett, and their deeply affected families, the ride will be permanently decommissioned,” said chief executive Deborah Thomas.

“The closure of the ride is the only respectful and appropriate course of action.”

She added that a permanent memorial was planned, with input from the families of the dead.

Police wrapped up their investigations earlier this week and handed back control of the park to management, but Dreamworld is yet to announce when it will reopen.

In the aftermath of the accident, the Australian Workers Union said it had voiced concerns about the operation and maintenance of some equipment at Dreamworld last year, while media reported alleged safety mishaps.

Dreamworld is conducting its own internal review of what went wrong and Tuesday announced a fully independent external probe of all its rides and operating systems by a mechanical engineering firm.

Management said it was also working with workplace health and safety officials and no ride would operate until all reviews were complete.

Engineering firm Pitt & Sherry has begun an external review of all Dreamworld and Whitewater World rides and operating systems, separate from the internal review.

“No ride at Dreamworld will operate until the Workplace Health and Safety Audit has been completed and unless it passes the multi-level internal and external review process,” she said.

The park, Australia’s biggest, has hosted 30 million people since opening in 1981 and last month’s disaster was its first fatal accident.

Ardent shares fell as much as 3.5 per cent to A$1.940 (US$1.49) on the news – the lowest since the day of the accident.

Additional reporting by Reuters