The Hillcrest Primary School on the Australian island of Tasmania wants to celebrate the last day of school before the Christmas holidays with a festival. A bouncy castle is also organized for the students. But then gusts of wind tear the castle up. The tragedy ensues.
so. / (dpa / Reuters)
An 11-year-old boy is the sixth person killed in a bouncy castle incident four days ago in Tasmania, Australia. A girl and three boys aged twelve and a girl and a boy aged eleven had fallen to the ground from a height of up to ten meters when the inflatable castle was lifted into the air by the wind at a primary school festival on Thursday morning. Two children are still in critical condition, according to police, and one is recovering at home.
Mourning instead of celebration
It should be a happy day. About a week before Christmas, Hillcrest Primary School in the town of Devonport had organized many colorful activities to mark the end of the year with the students. The scenes that then took place on the school grounds were shocking, as eyewitnesses report: “These children wanted to celebrate their last day in elementary school, instead we have to mourn them,” said Police Commissioner Darren Hine.
Gusts of wind would have turned the bouncy castle into a “deadly weapon”, according to the broadcaster “9News”. It is the “greatest tragedy in the history of Devonport”.
Rescue workers were on duty with numerous ambulances and helicopters. Parents rushed to the school without knowing whether their child was affected by the disaster. The families of the victims as well as the emergency services received psychological support. Police officers who were called to the scene lay crying in each other’s arms. People across the country were shocked by the news. Many citizens laid flowers on the fence of the school. On Thursday evening, the victims were commemorated in a nearby church.
“The events that happened today in Devonport, Tasmania, are simply shocking,” said Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Thursday. «Young children want to have a fun day with their families and it becomes such a terrible tragedy at this time of year. It just breaks your heart. “
Investigations are ongoing
How it came to the accident is still unclear. The authorities opened an investigation to find out how the bouncy castle was anchored in the ground and how it could be detached by the wind. “A number of people and witnesses have to be questioned, so it will take some time,” said Police Commissioner Hine. The focus is initially on supporting the children and relatives of the dead.
An online campaign raised almost 1.3 million Australian dollars (the equivalent of 856,000 francs) with donations from home and abroad within three days. They are supposed to support the families of the deceased.
There have been fatal accidents with inflatables in the past, albeit very rarely: In 2015, two children were killed in Estonia when a strong gust of wind hurled a bouncy castle meters high through the air. Three other children were seriously injured. In 2016, in Harlow, Essex, UK, a seven-year-old died in a storm when a bouncy castle came loose and fell 300 meters “like a wagon wheel” down a hill.