Ride to unhappiness: 9 people trapped for hours on roller coaster Saturday

Ride to unhappiness: 9 people trapped for hours on roller coaster Saturday
A rescue basket and crane, theme park personnel, eight ambulances, and a specialized fire brigade climbing team assembled at the park to rescue the riders. Brandweer Westhoek fire brigade photo.

As high winds buffeted the region, rescuers plucked nine teens and adults from a West Flanders roller coaster that had stalled 32 meters off the ground on Saturday night.

The coaster, named "The Ride to Happiness", is in the Plopsaland theme park in the coastal municipality De Panne. The ride stalled at about 17:26. The teens and adults were spread among four of the ride’s gondolas and were trapped on the ride for hours as the coastal region was under a Code Yellow weather warning, the Brandweer Westhoek fire brigade reported. The Royal Meteorological Institute issues Code Yellow warnings when it predicts wind gusts of between 80 and 100 km/h.

The rescue effort included a crane, theme park personnel, eight ambulances, and a specialized fire brigade climbing team. The first people rescued were brought to the ground at 21:49. The final riders reached the ground at 23:30.

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The fire brigade reported all riders were in relatively good shape following the ordeal. However, all were brought to nearby hospitals in Ostend and Veurne with hypothermia symptoms.

The reason for the roller coaster's malfunction has not yet been released.

Plopsaland added The Ride to Happiness in 2021. It speeds along a metal-frame track at speeds up to 95 kilometres per hour. Each car spins independently of the others, turning upside down five times on the track, The Brussels Times previously reported.


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