Five children fell to their death and five others were injured when a bouncy castle was blown into the air by a gust of wind outside an Australian school.
The unimaginable tragedy took place during a celebration marking the last week of classes before Christmas break at Hillcrest primary school in northern Tasmania, police said.
The children in the bouncy castle were tossed from a height of about 33 feet on a sunny, early summer day that was forecast by local weather services to have “light winds.”
The victims were all in sixth grade and included two boys and two girls. The gender of a fifth child who later died in the hospital is unclear.
Two of the victims have been identified as Addison Stewart and Zane Gardam.
Addison’s aunt Meg Aherne wrote in a GoFundMe page that “everyone is devastated” by the loss.
“My niece was tragically taken in the accident at Hillcrest Primary. I’m hoping to raise some money for my brother and sister in-law to help pay for funeral costs and to pay off some bills for them while they try and navigate life without their precious daughter,” she wrote.
Gardam, who was autistic, was described in a separate GoFundMe created by a family friend as “caring” and “gentle.”
“Zane was such a beautiful caring, gentle soul who had challenges growing up with his autism and (ADHD) but that never set him back he kept achieving,” organizer Grace Johnston wrote.
“This has shook so many people and the community and we want to do anything to help make things a little easier for her at this hard time,” Johnston added.
Of the surviving children, four are in critical condition and the other is in serious condition, according to Tasmanian police commissioner Darren Hine.
“On a day when these children were meant to be celebrating their last day of primary school, instead we’re all mourning their loss,” Hine said, news.com.au reported.
“Our hearts are breaking for the families and the loves ones, school mates, teachers of these young people who were taken too soon,” he added. “Our thoughts are also with those emergency service personnel who attend to try and save these people’s lives.”
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison called the incident “shattering” and “unthinkably heartbreaking.”
“Young children on a fun day out, together with their families and it turns to such a horrific tragedy, at this time of year, it just breaks your heart,” he said.
Some parents witnessed the horrific scene as they were volunteering at the event.
Bob Smith, who lives near the school, said he saw the castle “go up.”
“We knew there was something really wrong. My wife heard a bang. It was pretty traumatic,” he told the ABC. “[We’re] a bit shaken. You don’t expect anything like that. The poor parents, I don’t know what they’re going to do.”
The school closed for the day after the incident.