December 10, 2016 / 4:24 AM / 9 months ago

Australia's Dreamworld theme park reopens after fatal ride accident

(Reuters) - Australian theme park Dreamworld reopened on Saturday having been closed since the end of October following the deaths of four people on its now-shuttered Thunder River Rapids ride.

Craig Davidson, chief executive of theme parks at Dreamworld owner Ardent Leisure Group, said reopening the park on the Gold Coast in the eastern state of Queensland was a poignant moment.

“Today the smiles of Dreamworld staff sit atop heavy hearts,” Davidson told reporters.

“We are pleased to be reopening our doors but our hearts and thoughts remain firmly with the families who lost loved ones in the tragic accident on the 25th of October.”

Davidson said safety had always been the park’s priority and that a rigorous safety review of all attractions was ongoing.

Emergency services personnel can be seen near a ride inside the Dreamworld theme park at Coomera on the Gold Coast, Australia, October 25, 2016 after a number of people were reported killed on a ride at Australia's biggest theme park. AAP/Dan Peled/via REUTERS

“Every single attraction open today has passed an unprecedented multi-level safety review, encompassing Workplace Health and Safety Queensland’s audit, Dreamworld’s internal engineering review, (infrastructure consultancy) Pitt & Sherry’s independent review and the external peer-review by U.K.-based theme park safety specialists LTC,” he said.

Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment Steven Ciobo welcomed the park’s reopening.

“I encourage Australians to continue to visit the Gold Coast and the city’s theme parks,” Ciobo said in a statement.

“Gold Coast theme parks are an enduring and essential part of Queensland’s A$23 billion ($17 billion) tourism industry.”

Ardent Leisure previously said it would donate $25 for every ticket sold over the weekend to the Australian Red Cross.

Reporting by Peter Gosnell; Editing by Christopher Cushing

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