Busch Gardens closes river rapids ride after fatal accident at park in Australia

- After four people were killed at an amusement park in Australia, Busch Gardens is closing one of its own rides.

They say their Congo River ride is similar to the one that malfunctioned earlier Monday in Australia - called Thunder River Rapids - when four adults were killed.

Two were flung from the ride and two were trapped either underwater or in the machinery. Two children who were in the raft at the time of the accident were hospitalized, Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said on Wednesday.

Two of those who died were a young mother and her brother. Kim Dorsett, of Canberra, confirmed that two of the victims were her children: Kate Goodchild, 32, and Luke Dorsett, 35. They were apparently out for a day of family fun with Goodchild's daughters at Dreamworld, Australia's largest theme park, located on Queensland state's Gold Coast, Queensland police officer Tod Reid told reporters.

"I have three children and have lost two of them today — my whole family has been wiped out," she told The Courier-Mail newspaper on Tuesday. "I have two granddaughters — an 8-month-old and a 12-year-old — and it truly breaks my heart to know that my 8-month-old is never going to get to know her mom."

Park staffers administered first aid to the victims, but their injuries proved fatal, Gavin Fuller, an officer with the Queensland Ambulance Service, told reporters.

The other two victims were only identified as a 38-year-old man and a 42 year-old woman. Media reports say the man was Luke Dorsett's partner from Canberra and the woman was a New Zealand citizen who lived in Sydney.

In Tampa, Busch Gardens announced Tuesday night its own Congo River Rapids ride will be closed until engineers take a look. The ride sends participants on a circular raft down a man-made river and into a pool.

"We have made the decision to close our Congo River Rapids ride while we work with other park operators and ride manufacturers to understand what happened in Australia," said Karen Varga-Sinka, Busch Gardens spokeswoman. "Our thoughts and prayers are with all of those involved in the tragic incident at the Dreamworld park. The safety of guests and team members continues to be Busch Gardens' number one priority. All ride attractions are inspected daily by trained technicians to ensure they are operating properly and meet all safety guidelines set forth by state agencies and well as the ride manufacturers."

"You trust the owners of the parks that you are doing the right thing," said Larry Taylor of Tampa.

The decision to take stock of the ride at Busch Gardens was applauded by those grabbing a bite to eat at a hot dog stand near Busch Gardens.

"Very smart," said Taylor. "Very smart thing to do, the right thing to do, they get the right engineers in here, make sure it is operating properly and then they reopen it."

Although no final determination has been made, rescuers in Australia were originally told a conveyor belt had malfunctioned.

Officials here may not reopen Congo River Rapids until they know exactly what went wrong.

"[It's a] tragedy, [it's] sad," said Mike Southard of Temple Terrace. "I feel bad for the families of anyone who was involved in that."

As the investigatoin continues in Australia, Reid said he was not aware of any previous problems with the ride. Police were interviewing witnesses and reviewing closed-circuit television footage of the incident while crews worked to remove the bodies from the scene on Tuesday night, he said.

"It is a complex retrieval involving heavy equipment and that will take several hours," Reid said.

Dreamworld CEO Craig Davidson said the park was working with police to try and determine what went wrong.

"We are deeply shocked and saddened by this, and our hearts and our thoughts go out to the families involved and to their loved ones," Davidson told reporters.

The park was closed following the accident and was expected to remain closed on Wednesday.

A witness, Lia Capes, told the Australian Broadcasting Corp. that she was just about to go on the ride when she saw people running out, crying.

"I was speaking to one of the guys and he said it was the raft or the boat thing in front of him, the whole thing flipped and everyone was screaming," Capes said.

Thunder River is considered one of Dreamworld's tamer, family-friendly rides, and was open to children as young as 2. The park, which has been open since 1981, also features several roller coasters and the free-fall ride "The Giant Drop," where passengers plunge from a height of nearly 120 meters (400 feet). In April, the park's Rocky Hollow Log Ride was temporarily shut down after a man fell from the ride.

Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said there would be a thorough investigation into the cause of Tuesday's accident.

"Theme parks are a place for family fun and happiness, not tragedy," he told reporters.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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