Tasmania jumping castle tragedy: what do we know so far?


Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article titled “Tasmania jumping castle tragedy: what do we know so far?” was written by Cait Kelly, for theguardian.com on Friday 17th December 2021 02.58 UTC

Five children are dead and another three are in critical condition after a jumping castle was blown into the air during an end-of-year celebration at a school in Tasmania’s north-west.

The Tasmanian premier, Peter Gutwein, is currently in Devonport and gave an update with the Tasmania police commissioner, Darren Hine, on Friday morning.

They agreed there would be a lot of questions without answers in the coming days as authorities investigated how this tragedy unfolded.

Here’s what we know so far:

What happened?

Close to 40 students were gathered on the sports oval at Hillcrest primary school at about 10am Thursday when a gust of wind picked up the jumping castle and several Zorb balls and hurled them into the air.

Witnesses told police the castle had flown 10 metres in the air before dropping down.

The children fell to the ground, some landing on the oval, others on the grassy slope.

Several adults at the oval administered first aid on the children until officers arrived.

Police have not said exactly how many were hurt in the incident, but several were airlifted out.

They had been celebrating their last school day, which included “a jumping castle, zorb balls, tabloid activities”, a post on the school’s community Facebook page said.

“The ‘Big Day In’ will start at 9:30am where students will have the opportunity to rotate through a range of activities with their cohort.”

At 10:45am another post asked parents to urgently pick up their children from the school.

“There has been an accident onsite at our school. We are closing the school for the rest of the day,” it read. “We ask that parents come to collect their children as a matter of urgency.”

How many were killed and injured?

Five children – three boys and two girls all between 11 and 12 years old – died from injuries sustained when the jumping castle was lifted into the air by a gust of wind.

Three children remain in critical condition, but police said one had now been released from the hospital and was recovering at home.

Was the castle tied down?

This is a question many have asked, but police would only say it would be part of their investigation.

The investigation will be led by Tasmanian police, with the assistance of WorkSafe, under the direction of the coroner – who also attended the scene yesterday.

Hine said it “would take some time” to interview everyone who was there and work out what happened.

“Sadly, there are a number of people and witnesses there that need to be interviewed, so it will take quite some time and will be guided by the coroner,” he said. “Our focus now is supporting those who are tragically affected by what’s happened here today.”

The Bureau of Meteorology told the ABC that at the time of the event there was a gust of wind recorded at the airport, but it was only 22km an hour – which would feel the same as starting your car and putting your hand out the window.

“It’s a fairly light wind,” duty forecaster Anna Forrest said.

In a statement, BOM said it was now working with investigators.

“The bureau will contribute information and analysis as part of those investigations,” it said.

As part of the investigation, police said they would also be investigating how high it flew and whether all the children injured were inside the jumping castle.

Hine said the investigation would form the basis of a future inquest into the children’s deaths.

Has this happened before?

It is rare, but children have been injured in similar events before.

In November 2020 two children suffered multiple fractures after the jumping castle in Tabbita, near, Griffith, in New South Wales became airborne.

In China in 2019 two children were killed and 20 others were injured when a jumping castle was also blown away.

And in 2016 a seven-year-old girl was killed in Essex after the same thing happened. Two fairground workers were later convicted of manslaughter by gross negligence.

  • In Australia Lifeline on 13 11 14, Kids Helpline 1800 551 800, mental health helpline 1800 333 288 and Beyond Blue 1300 224 636.

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