In Belgian park Plopsaland De Panne in West Flanders, seven people were trapped in the Ride To Happiness ride at 37 meters last night. The situation was exacerbated by strong winds.
According to the newspaper Het Nieuwsblad, the rescue operation, which was carried out by firefighters, took several hours. Among those trapped in Plopsaland were three Germans – 16, 21 and 23 years old. Another of the passengers was from the Netherlands, the other five participants were Flemings, De Pann Mayor Bram Degrik said on Saturday evening.
The Westhoek fire brigade received the call at around 5:26 p.m. A jammed ride at the Ride to Happiness amusement park has been reported. This is a kind of train, consisting of 4 cabins. Nine people were trapped. Initially, it was about seven, but then this figure was adjusted by rescuers.
A crisis commission was set up to coordinate the rescue along with Mayor De Panna. Eight ambulances, a paramedical intervention team and a MUG team arrived on the scene to receive and treat the victims.
At 21.49 the first two people were taken out of the cabins. The last people were evacuated around 23:30. After a medical examination, all were taken to the Werne and Ostend hospitals with symptoms of hypothermia. Plopsa CEO Steve van den Kerckhoff stated:
“We are very glad that everything ended well and everyone is back on earth. Now we have to figure out what caused this and how it could have happened. Everyone immediately thought about the wind, but such an attraction has an anemometer, and it showed that we were still about 25% below the maximum allowable wind speed. We set the boundary even more clearly than the creator of attractions. So it couldn’t be. We will not open the ride again until we figure out what caused this incident. We don’t want to go through this a second time. We’re going to invite these people to come and have a good night’s sleep at the hotel and then visit the park again. And whether to do this attraction again – it’s up to them. I have already contacted Tomorrowland and they have made it clear that they will do something for them too.”
The park was closed in the early evening. The weather on the coast is very bad. The wind is blowing and it is raining heavily. The yellow code was valid yesterday on the coast from 17:00.