Five children are confirmed to have died on Thursday at a Tasmanian school after a huge wind gust blew a jumping castle approximately 10 metres into the air causing children to fall and be flung.
Normally the end of the school year is a time for celebration. Hillcrest Primary School in Devonport, situated in north-west Tasmania, was holding an end-of-year event for the children to celebrate the start of the summer holidays when a sudden and very traumatising accident took place causing several children to fall from a jumping castle.
The five children confirmed to have perished while at the school 5 boys and girls from Year 6. It is not confirmed what the size or shape of the jumping castle was. These children were in their final year of primary school and due to start school holidays in mere days.
There are another four children in hospital receiving treatment for their serious injuries with three children in a critical condition.
Watch: Hillcrest Primary School press conference. Post continues below.
Video via ABC.
"On a day when these children were meant to be celebrating their last day of primary school, instead we're all mourning their loss," Tasmania Police Commissioner Darren Hine told reporters.
"Our hearts are breaking for the families and the loved ones, schoolmates, teachers of these young people who were taken too soon. Our thoughts are also with those emergency services personnel who attended to try and save these people's lives."
Earlier on Thursday, Tasmania Police initially confirmed one child had died, before reporting a second death in the early afternoon.
It wasn't until the press conference in the afternoon, that the further two deaths were confirmed.
In a statement on Thursday evening, police confirmed a fifth child died in hospital.
Witnesses have told the ABC, it was a very confronting scene with police and parents rushing towards the school.
During the press conference, police did not confirm if the caste was anchored down to the ground at the time of the wind gust.
The coroner has attended the primary school, with a police investigation underway into how the incident occurred. Commissioner Hine noted the investigation is expected to take "quite some time".
Commander Debbie Williams confirmed that several children fell from the jumping castle, and it appears they may have fallen from a height of approximately 10 metres.
"This is a very tragic event and our thoughts are with the families and the wider school community and also our first responders. This has been a very distressing and confronting scene," Commander Williams said.
Tim Bullard, secretary of the Tasmanian Education Department also assured the public that the wellbeing of the children, families and staff affected by the tragedy are front of mind.
"My thoughts are obviously with ... the parents of the children that have been injured and with the emergency services," he said.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison described the accident as unthinkably heartbreaking.
"Young children on a fun day out, together with their families and it turns to such horrific tragedy. At this time of year, it just breaks your heart," he told reporters on the NSW Central Coast.
Yes, a bounce house can fly away if not secured correctly with stakes at least 18 inches long or sand bags at least 40 pounds in weight. Even with proper securing, strong winds can pull stakes out of the ground and blow a bounce house away. Some companies recommend that a bounce house jumping castle should never be used in winds above 20 MPH. The strength of the win on Thursday is yet to be confirmed.
There are many reported cases of a bounce house being picked up by the wind with people in them. In order to prevent that from happening, there are a few set rules to follow when properly securing a bounce house.
Here are some previous headlines
A bouncy house was swept away by a gust of wind Monday, sending two boys and a girl inside flying 50 feet into the air.
Five children were injured when a strong wind picked up two bounce houses at a church carnival in South Carolina on Saturday, sending one of the inflatables into a tree and the other into a power line, authorities said.
A bounce house being rented for some birthday party fun was carried away by a gust of wind Saturday, colliding with power lines as a result.
Our thoughts and prayers are with the families who have lost loved ones in this tragedy. As a mother of children the same age, I hope that the other children recover from this terrible ordeal.
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