- Publish Date
- Wednesday, 26 October 2016, 5:24AM
A Kiwi woman was one of four people killed in yesterday's horror accident on a Gold Coast theme park ride.
The Herald understands the woman and one of her children were on the Thunder River Rapids ride at Dreamworld when the accident happened about 2.20pm local time (5.20pm NZT).
Originally from Auckland, the woman had been living in Australia with her Kiwi husband and their two children, who were on holiday on the Gold Coast at the time.
Their son who was also on the ride is said to be recovering in hospital, with his father by his bedside.
Shocked relatives in New Zealand were last night preparing to rush to the Gold Coast to support the family.
Police said the two men were aged 38 and 35 and the two women were 42 and 32.
Meanwhile, reports emerged last night that Dreamworld visitors said there had been problems on the ride earlier in the day.
A witness told Nine News they were waiting for half an hour while engineers attended to the ride.
"They drained all the water out and then had to refill it back up, and then we were allowed to go. But yeah, we were stuck there for about 30 minutes at least," the witness said.
Queensland police spokesman Tod Reid said he wasn't aware of any earlier issues with the ride, and couldn't say if the four people who died were related.
A woman whose sister and niece were on the fatal river rapids ride said: "they are so traumatised, there is a woman hanging by her foot, crushed from the ride."
The Thunder River Rapids ride is a water-based raft ride using a conveyor belt. Currently Australia's only river rapids ride, it opened in December, 1986.
Riders board one of several six-person circular rafts.
The raft is dispatched and the riders enter a cave, before exiting into the main rapids section of the ride. This runs alongside a large water catchment which powers both the Thunder River Rapids ride and the Rocky Hollow Log ride.
Riders speed up to 45km/h through turbulent rapids.
Another said the ride flipped at the very end of its circuit.
A man told the Courier Mail a girl was pulled from the ride just before it flipped. He thought four people were on the ride at the time.
Another witness, Leah Capes, said she was waiting near the ride entrance when people came running from the rapids ride line.
"The kids and people in there were screaming.
"It all happened so quickly ... there were heaps of people crying."
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull offered his condolences in a statement. "I'm very saddened to learn of the tragic accident at Dreamworld earlier today," he said tonight.
Dreamworld chief executive Craig Davison said the park was closed and Dreamworld was "working to establish facts around the incident".
Queensland Ambulance Service spokesman Gavin Fuller said a malfunction caused two people to be thrown from their raft and another two were caught inside it.
They were assessed by ambulance staff but had suffered fatal injuries.
He said ambulance staff were "deeply affected" by the accident.
He said he couldn't be more specific on the nature of the injuries or how the four ride passengers died.