Four people killed in accident on 'moderate thrill' ride at Australian Dreamworld theme park
* Two victims thrown off the ride, two trapped -rescue official * Shares in park owner Ardent Leisure down 7 pct * Tragedy ranks among world's deadliest theme park accidents (Adds accident details; comment from ambulance service, police)
Police have confirmed that at least four people have been killed in an accident at a theme park on the Australian Gold Coast.
Two men and two women died while on the Thunder River Rapids ride at Dreamworld, a popular attraction on the Gold Coast, Queensland state police officer Todd Reid told reporters.
A malfunction on the ride, which whisks people in circular rafts along a fast-moving, man-made river, caused two people to be ejected from their raft, while two others were caught inside the ride, said Gavin Fuller, an officer with the Queensland Ambulance Service.
He did not know if the two victims who were caught in the ride were trapped underwater, or caught up in the machinery.
Four people have been critically injured at #Dreamworld. There is nothing further we can confirm at this stage.— QPS Media Unit (@QPSmedia) October 25, 2016
Park staff administered first aid to the victims, but their injuries proved fatal, Mr Fuller said.
The victims were in their 30s and early 40s, he added.
Mr Reid said he was not aware of any previous problems with the ride.
Dreamworld chief executive Craig Davidson said the park was working with police to try to determine what went wrong.
"We are deeply shocked and saddened by this, and our hearts and our thoughts go out to the families involved and to their loved ones," he said..
The theme park was closed following the accident.
Police will address the media shortly in relation to a major incident at Coomera this afternoon. https://t.co/vezIqR8abh— QPS Media Unit (@QPSmedia) October 25, 2016
ABC Australia is reporting that Paramedics and Fire and Rescue units are at the scene, as well as Workplace Health and Safety officials.
It is understood that the accident happened on the Thunder Rapids ride which is described on Dreamworld's website as a "moderate thrill".
In a statement Queensland police said they were investigating an incident that occurred at the theme park.
"Police were called to the site at Coomera around 2.20pm following reports that a number of people had been injured by a conveyor belt.
"Four adults have been confirmed as being deceased.
"Police and other emergency services remain on the scene and no further information can be released at this stage."
Lia Capes told Australian Broadcasting Corp (ABC) she was just about to go on the ride when she saw people running out, crying.
"We saw [a] little girl and we believe it was her mum because it was just her and her little sister that was an infant," Ms Capes said.
"I was speaking to one of the guys and he said it was the raft or the boat thing in front of him, the whole thing flipped and everyone was screaming."
Ms Capes said Dreamworld staff quickly evacuated the area.
"The little girl that was crying, they asked us to take her because we distracted her, she was balling her eyes out," she said.
"[Then] people that worked here took her and her little sister away."
Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said there would be a thorough investigation to determine the cause of the accident.
Gold Coast Mayor Tom Tate paid tribute on Facebook: