Five children died and four others were seriously injured on Thursday after suffering a steep fall when a gust of wind flung a bouncy castle and several inflatable “zorb” balls into the air at a school in Australia.
The school, located on the island state of Tasmania, was holding a celebration to mark the end of the year when a "significant local wind event" caused the items to be thrown into the air and the nine students to fall from a height of around 10 meters (33 feet), police said.
The children who died included two boys and two girls in year 6, which would make them 10 or 11 years old, according to Tasmania police Commissioner Darren Hine, who said an investigation was underway. Police later Thursday confirmed a fifth child died in the hospital.
Authorities initially reported five children were being treated for injuries, including four in critical condition. Police could not provide any updates to NBC News on the condition of the four other children hospitalized hours after the earlier release.
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."
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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.