Devonport jumping castle tragedy: Hillcrest Primary death toll hits four 1

Devonport jumping castle tragedy: Hillcrest Primary death toll hits four

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Four children are dead and four of their classmates are fighting for life after a wind gust blew a jumping castle 10 metres into the air in a freak accident at a primary school end-of-year celebration. 

The tragedy unfolded at Hillcrest Primary School, near Devonport in north-west Tasmania, at about 10am on Thursday.  

‘I can now sadly confirm four children have died and four are in a critical condition,’ Tasmania Police Commissioner Darren Hine said.

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The four children, two boys and two girls, were Year 6 students. Five others are in hospital with four critical. 

‘On a day when these children were meant to be celebrating their last day of primary school, instead we’re all mourning their loss,’ Commissioner Hine said.

‘Our hearts are breaking for the families and the loved ones, schoolmates, teachers of these young people who were taken too soon.’  

Two police officers console each other at Hillcrest Primary School, in Tasmania, after four children were killed when a jumping castle flew ten metres into the air

Two police officers console each other at Hillcrest Primary School, in Tasmania, after four children were killed when a jumping castle flew ten metres into the air 

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Paramedics and police are pictured at a scene at Hillcrest Primary School after four children died in a jumping castle incident

Paramedics and police are pictured at a scene at Hillcrest Primary School after four children died in a jumping castle incident

Detectives are investigating how many children were on the jumping castle in the first place when the tragedy unfolded to prepare a brief for the coroner. 

A harrowing photo shows distraught cops consoling each other after two children were declared dead at the scene.

Tasmania Police Commissioner Darren Hine said seasoned first responders who were at the shaken by the devastating events. 

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‘It is an emotional day for everyone who is tragically impacted by today,’ he said. 

‘I’ve already seen pictures of police officers quite upset, as you’d expect. Any emergency services and teachers, everyone is affected in some way.’ 

A schoolboy who watched the horrific scene unfold revealed he was almost involved in the tragedy. 

‘It was our turn next,’ he told The Mercury.

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‘Grade five and six went first.’

The jumping castle was blown into the air by a freak gust of wind, killing two kids and leaving several injured (paramedics are pictured at the scene)

The jumping castle was blown into the air by a freak gust of wind, killing two kids and leaving several injured (paramedics are pictured at the scene)

Two rescue helicopters and multiple ambulances were sent to the scene.  

Four children have died and several others are in a critical condition in hospital, Tasmania Police Commander Debbie Williams said.

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The inflatable castle was part of a celebration to mark the last day of school, which also included zorb balls, a slippery slide and a wet play zone. 

‘A wind event caused a jumping castle to lift into the air,’ police said in a statement.

‘Several children fell from a height of about 10 metres about 10am.’ 

Residents have been told to avoid the area. 

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‘Tragically I can confirm that there are two deceased children after an incident today at Hillcrest Primary School,’ she said.

‘Counselling is being made available to the families affected by this in the school community along with the first responders.’

Images at the scene showed a wall of tarpaulin sheets set up as paramedics worked desperately to save those who had been injured. 

Two rescue helicopters and multiple ambulances were sent to the scene on Thursday (pictured)

Two rescue helicopters and multiple ambulances were sent to the scene on Thursday (pictured)

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A school boy said he was about to have his turn on the jumping castle when the accident happened.

‘It was our turn next,’ he said, according to The Mercury. ‘Grade five and six went first.’

Comm Williams said officers were called to ‘a very confronting and distressing scene’.  

The primary school said in a statement its grounds would be closed for the rest of the day.  

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‘We ask that parents come to collect their children as a matter of urgency,’ the statement read.

Paramedics are pictured at Hillcrest Primary School, near Devonport in Tasmania. Two children have died and several others left in a critical condition after they fell from a jumping castle at the school

Paramedics are pictured at Hillcrest Primary School, near Devonport in Tasmania. Two children have died and several others left in a critical condition after they fell from a jumping castle at the school

The primary school said in a statement there had been an accident and the site would be closed for the rest of the day

The primary school said in a statement there had been an accident and the site would be closed for the rest of the day

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said it was ‘heartbreaking’ that what was meant to be a fun-filled day of activities turned into a tragedy.

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‘Young children on a fun day out and it turns to such a horrific tragedy, at this time of year,’ he said.

‘It just breaks your heart.’ 

Premier Peter Gutwein addressed the incident at a Covid press conference on Thursday. He said it was understood ‘there are serious injuries involved’.

The school is in Devonport in northern Tasmania (pictured). Hillcrest Primary School had posted online before the accident advertising its 'Big Day In' celebration to parents

The school is in Devonport in northern Tasmania (pictured). Hillcrest Primary School had posted online before the accident advertising its ‘Big Day In’ celebration to parents

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‘As further information comes to hand we will provide it, but as this involves a primary school my thoughts are with the people involved and the parents,’ he said.

Ambulance Tasmania said it was responding to a ‘major incident’ and urged motorists in the state’s north-west to give way to emergency vehicles. 

A woman wrote on Facebook that she had a friend who was ‘racing to the school’ and ‘saw ambulances everywhere’.

‘I’ve just been on the phone to a friend who was racing to the school – she’s a wreck,’ the woman wrote.

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Hillcrest Primary School pictured.  'Several children fell from a height of about 10 metres about 10am,' a Tasmania Police spokesman said

Hillcrest Primary School pictured.  ‘Several children fell from a height of about 10 metres about 10am,’ a Tasmania Police spokesman said

Ambulance Tasmania said in a statement that it was responding to a 'major incident'

Ambulance Tasmania said in a statement that it was responding to a ‘major incident’

Locals on Facebook said the wind was not that strong on Thursday and that a freak gust must have ripped the jumping castle from the pegs holding it to the ground.

‘It’s not even that windy down here,’ one person wrote. 

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The school had posted online before the accident advertising its ‘Big Day In’ celebration to parents. 

‘Students will have the opportunity to rotate through a range of activities with their cohort,’ the school wrote. 

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