As many as 13 children and an attendant at a jumping balloon joy ride were injured when the ride overturned, at Eco Park in Rajarhat, leading the state government to shut down the amusement park and appoint a two-member panel to probe its safety measures. The ride had overturned due to an 85 kmph wind which swept over the city on Sunday, sources said. Workers at the amusement park said a gust of wind snapped the nylon ropes which tethered the balloon to the ground.
“The balloon swung into the air and overturned, throwing the kids who were playing on it. The kids fell on the ground from 10 feet (above) and got injured,” said a worker. The injured were rushed to a nearby hospital, where the park employee was found to have a broken hand and nine children were discharged after preliminary treatment. Four children, including four-year-old Riyan Nayak and his seven-year-old sister Manisha, were later shifted to Apollo Hospital on E M Bypass, where Riyan was diagnosed with a head injury and put on a ventilator. Yatika (6) and Purbi Sharma (9) are said to be in stable condition.
Speaking to reporters, Ipsita Biswas, who required four stitches on her lips, said, “We were jumping on the balloon when suddenly we were thrown to the ground. My brother also got injured in the accident.” Her father, Gobinda, said no one came to the children’s rescue for several minutes after the incident occurred. “As soon as the incident took place, two of the workers at the joy ride ran away. The kids were lying unattended for several minutes. It was clear… that they were not prepared to handle such a situation,” he said.
The state government has now shut down Eco Park, which is one of the largest amusement parks in the country. State Public Works Minister Firhad Hakim announced the closure and said a two-member enquiry committee has been set up. “We have stopped all joy rides at Eco Park. We will open it to the public once we are satisfied with the safety measures… If negligence on the part of the authorities is proved, we will take strong action against people responsible for the accident,” he said.
Spread over 480 acres, Eco Park was built under the aegis of the West Bengal Housing Infrastructure Development Corporation (HIDCO), a government autonomous body. It was conceptualised by Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee.