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Deadly Accident at South China Amusement Park Causes 6 Died and 10 Injured

Posted by Author on July 5, 2010

The Wall Street Journal, July 5, 2010 –

A deadly accident at a Chinese amusement park last week has spawned a mystery that officials are still trying to unravel.

The accident happened on Space Journey, a ride at Ecoventure Valley of Overseas Chinese Town in Shenzhen. The rise is designed to simulate the experience of a rocket launch, including acceleration twice that of gravity.

Normally, under a dome 24 meters in diameter built to suggest the vast expanse of the universe, Space Journey’s 40-some passengers spin and bob in four-person carts.

But last Tuesday, something went horribly wrong, leading to the deaths of six people on the ride and injuries to 10 others.

“This is the first time in my over three decades working in this field that I have ever encountered such a mass-casualty accident,” said Bi Jianbin, vice chairman of the China Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions. It was a “huge shock” to experts, Bi said.

Neither officials nor the company that own the ride, Shenzhen Overseas Chinese Town Holding Co., have offered a clear explanation for what happened. The local government held a press conference at which the park apologized for the accident. A public relations official at the company says the incident is “under investigation, so we have nothing to say.”

In the absence of an explanation, Chinese media have quoted sometimes inconsistent eyewitness accounts. One witness said there was an explosion. Another smelled something burning.

Some unconfirmed reports say one of the ride’s carts broke off and fell to the ground, killing its passengers. Several reports cite a break in the ride’s power as the accident’s source. There is even a video circulating on the Internet that offers a hypothetical simulation of the disaster.

Bi says the accident couldn’t have been caused by a power outage. Even if the power went out, as occasionally happens on rides, it wouldn’t have caused the kind of damage that appears to have occurred on Space Journey.

The ride had only been open to the public for a little over a year, since May 1, 2009. Because the machinery for the ride was special equipment, it was tested and certified as safe by the China Special Equipment Inspection and Research Institute…….(more details from The Wall Street Journal)

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