Five children died and four others were in critical condition on Thursday after falling from a bouncy castle that was lifted 33 feet into the air by a gust of wind at a school on Australia’s island state of Tasmania. The school was holding a celebration to mark the end of the school year.
The children who died included two boys and two girls in year 6, which would make them 10 or 11 years old, said Tasmania police Commissioner Darren Hine. Police later Thursday confirmed a fifth child died in the hospital.
Five other children were being treated, including four in critical condition. Hine said an investigation is underway.
Images published by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation showed police officers consoling each other as paramedics provided first aid to victims.
Parents arrived at the school gate to collect their children as helicopters ferried the injured to hospitals.
Tasmania state Premier Peter Gutwein called the incident “simply inconceivable… I know this is a strong and caring community that will stand together and support one another.”
Tasmania police commander Debbie Williams told reporters “several children fell from the jumping castle. It appears they may have fallen from a height of approximately 10 meters.”
“This is a very tragic event and our thoughts are with the families and the wider school community and also our first responders,” Williams said.
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the incident was “just shattering” and “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 said, according to the AFP.
“I just want to say, to the parents and families and friends, all who were there, to the other young children there and witnessing these events, I just pray you’ll have great family around you and great friends and you can come through this horrific tragedy.”
The school had invited parents to volunteer for the event, which featured a wet play zone, a slide, an arts and crafts area, zorb balls and the bouncy castle.
“The purpose for the day is to celebrate a successful year and enjoy some fun activities with classmates,” the school, Hillcrest Primary, posted on its Facebook page.
That post was followed by the update: “There has been an accident on site at our school. We are closing the school for the rest of the day.”
“We ask that parents come to collect their children as a matter of urgency.”