Two young children are fortunate to be alive, police said Wednesday, after they were thrown clear and survived an accident that killed four people including their mothers on a river rapids ride at a popular theme park in Australia.
Two men and two women died in the accident on Tuesday at Dreamworld, a park on Queensland state's Gold Coast, Queensland Police Assistant Commissioner Brian Codd said.
The Thunder River Rapids ride whisks people in circular rafts along a fast-moving, artificial river, with a conveyor belt helping move the rafts through the water. Closed-circuit television footage showed the ride was coming to its conclusion when two rafts collided, Codd said.
"One has flipped backward and it has caught and tossed some of the people that were on the ride backward into the conveyor belt," Codd told reporters.
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The two children, a 10-year-old boy and a 12-year-old girl, who shared the raft with the victims were thrown clear and managed to escape, he said.
"In terms of how they escaped, maybe through the providence of God or somebody, but it seems from what I've seen almost a miracle that anybody came out of that," Codd said. "If we're going to be thankful for anything, I'm thankful for that."
Codd would not explain the girls' relationship with the victims. They had been traumatized and were being cared for by family, he said.
Kim Dorsett, of Canberra, confirmed that two of the victims were her children: Kate Goodchild, 32, and Luke Dorsett, 35.
"I have two granddaughters - an eight-month-old and a 12-year-old - and it truly breaks my heart to know that my eight-month-old is never going to get to know her mum," she told The Courier-Mail newspaper.
She said the 12-year-old "is completely devastated — she is blaming herself for what has happened."
Kim Dorsett was on a family vacation with her children and Goodchild's daughters from Canberra.
The boy's mother was Cindy Low, a 42-year-old New Zealand citizen who lived in Sydney, her family said in a statement.
Luke Dorsett's partner, Roozi Araghi, 38, of Canberra, was also killed, Araghi's employer, the Australian Bureau of Statistics, said in a statement.
Codd said police would investigate reports of problems with the ride earlier on Tuesday, as well as maintenance records and procedures.
Dreamworld would remain closed as a crime scene for two or three days. Charges could follow including criminal negligence, he said.
Dreamworld CEO Craig Davidson lay a wreath at a memorial to the victims at the park's entrance on Wednesday, as engineers began gathering forensic evidence of what had gone wrong.
Thunder River is considered one of Dreamworld's tamer, family-friendly rides, and is open to children as young as 2. The park has been open since 1981.