By 1news.co.nz and is republished with permission.
The death toll from a freak jumping castle accident at a primary school in Tasmania’s northwest remains at five, and three children are in hospital after one was allowed to go home.
The deceased year five and year six students from Hillcrest Primary School in Devonport are three boys and two girls. One was 11 years old and the others were 12.
Three remain in Royal Hobart Hospital with critical injuries and one has been released and is now recovering at home.
Nine children in total were injured in the accident on Thursday at the school, where 40 children were enjoying an end of term celebration.
Several adults were also hurt when the bouncy castle was lifted into the air by a sudden wind gust before plunging 10 metres to the ground.
“There is no doubt this incident will leave its mark, and I know people are sending their thoughts and prayers from right across the country,” Tasmania Police Commissioner Darren Hine said in Devonport on Friday.
Premier Peter Gutwein said everyone is praying for the children still in hospital.
“Overnight there has been an enormous outpouring of grief,” he said.
“As a parent, I cannot understand how the parents of those who have children (involved) must be feeling.
“But as a parent, I hope they can understand that we are all feeling for you.”
A devastated Devonport community was on Friday trying to make sense of the tragedy, which comes days before Christmas.
People gathered outside a primary school in Devonport on Thursday night for a candlelight vigil and flowers and messages of sympathy have been left near the gates.
Some residents turned off their Christmas lights as a mark of respect.
“People who just have no connection to the school or any of the families have just come in crying and grieving over the loss of the children in something that was supposed to be a celebration,” Fiona Morrison, a member of the local Uniting Church, told Nine Network.
“They just can’t believe what has happened.
“Last night, people turned off their Christmas lights in respect, or turned on their Christmas lights to offer the other children some hope, some light, at this time when they are grieving.”
Tasmanian senator Jacqui Lambie, who went to school in Devonport, said people were still in shock.
“We still don’t know how the other four children are going,” she told Nine Network on Friday.
“It’s just awful. I don’t even want to pick up the phone, I know it’s going to be somebody that we know … a week before Christmas.”
Tasmanian Governor Barbara Baker and Prime Scott Morrison have extended their sympathies to the families and the community.
Hillcrest Primary School was holding a ‘Big Day In’ celebration to mark the end of the school year, with the jumping castle and a number of inflatable zorb balls.
An investigation into how the jumping castle lifted from its footing will take some time as police need to interview multiple witnesses.
Officers remain at the scene, along with Worksafe Tasmania investigators, ahead of a report being given to the coroner.
The Education Department is providing support to the school children, their families and staff. Counselling has also been offered to first responders.
Three online fundraising pages – including one for a boy named Zane and another for a girl named Addison – were set up on Thursday to support the affected families.
The main GoFundMe page set up by local girl Zoe Smith had raised more than $400,000 as of 10am Friday, up from $250,000 earlier in the day.