The Australian authorities on Friday continued investigating the deaths of five children after a jumping castle was lifted into the air from strong winds at a school end-of-year celebration as condolences flowed into the grieving small coastal city.
Three boys and one girl aged 12 years, and one girl aged 11, died in the accident which saw children fall 10 metres (33 feet) to the ground at a school in Devonport in the northwest of the island state of Tasmania. Another three children remain in the hospital.
It was one of Australia’s deadliest accidents involving an amusement ride.
“The tragedy which occurred yesterday is beyond comprehension. It is devastating, heartbreaking. It is just simply incomprehensible,” Tasmania state Premier Peter Gutwein told reporters on Friday.
Some 40 students were taking part in the celebrations when strong winds reportedly caused the jumping castle and several inflatable zorb balls – large inflatable spheres which people can climb inside – to lift into the air.
Police said they would join workplace safety investigators to probe how high the jumping castle was lifted, whether all the injured children were inside it, the direction of the wind gust and whether and how the jumping castle was tethered to the ground.
They also released the names of the dead: Addison Stewart (11), Zane Mellor (12), Jye Sheehan (12), Jalailah Jayne-Maree Jones (12) and Peter Dodt (12).
Meanwhile, flowers were gathered near the accident site as community leaders said the city of about 23,000 people was struggling to process the incident.
“We are still trying to get our heads around how we could possibly be losing these children,” Devonport Mayor Annette Rockliff told the Australian Broadcasting Corp.
“Everyone knows somebody (impacted) and so we are already seeing people wrapping their arms around each other and supporting each other. I know that will continue.”