Four children were killed and several others were critically injured after a blast of wind blew their bouncy castle high into the air at an Australian school.
Police said the pupils were enjoying the last week of lessons before the Christmas holiday at a primary school in northern Tasmania when they were thrown from a height of about 10 metres (33 feet).
“I can now tragically confirm that four children have died, four children are in critical condition, and one youngster is in a serious condition,” said Tasmanian police commissioner Darren Hine.
Two boys and two girls in grade six – about 11 years old – were the victims.
On an otherwise beautiful, early summer day, the incident occurred at about 10 a.m. local time on Thursday (23:00 GMT on Wednesday) at Hillcrest Primary School.
The location, which located on Tasmania’s mountainous north coast and looks out across the freezing Bass Strait, had been projected to have “low winds” by local weather agencies.
Several rescue helicopters and ambulances rushed to the location after the tragedy to transport the injured to hospitals.
Images showed policemen in tears and blue tarpaulin coverings shielding “a really confronting and painful scene,” according to officers.
An investigation by the police is underway. Counseling is being offered to witnesses, friends, family, teachers, and first responders.
Bob Smith, who lives near the school, told that he witnessed the bouncy castle being erected. He was quoted as stating, “We’re a little disturbed.” “That’s not something you’d anticipate… Parents, how they suffer. “I have no idea what they’re going to do.”
The tragedy was “simply devastating” and “unthinkably awful,” according to Prime Minister Scott Morrison. “It simply crushes your heart to see little children enjoying a nice day out with their families turn into such awful tragedy at this time of year,” he said.
“I just want to say, to all of the parents, families, and friends who were there, to the other small children who were there and watching these occurrences, I just pray you’ll have amazing family and friends around you and you’ll be able to come through this awful tragedy,” she said.