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Funeral held after Australian bouncy castle tragedy

DEVONPORT, Tasmania, Australia: This screengrab taken from video released by Australian broadcaster ABC shows cuddly toys and messages left at a makeshift memorial outside the Hillcrest Primary School the day after five children died and four others were injured when a bouncy castle was blown into the air at an end-of-term school party. —AFP

SYDNEY:  Mourners gathered in Australia yesterday to farewell a 12-year-old boy who died in a tragic bouncy castle accident, the first funeral held for the six children killed in the incident. Emotional attendees embraced before the service in the northern Tasmanian city of Devonport as grieving family and friends arrived.

“Today will be one of the hardest days of my life,” the boy’s mother, Georgie Gardam, posted on Facebook. “What do I weigh up… the day I lost you or the day I put you to rest. I’m not sure.” The boy’s blue coffin-seen in a livestream from inside the chapel-was decorated with PlayStation logos, a poster of the videogame Red Dead Redemption II and a bouquet of sunflowers.

Four boys and two girls, aged between 11 and 12, died after a gust of wind blew a bouncy castle into the air at a celebration to mark the end of the school year. Two other children remain in critical condition in hospital in the state capital Hobart, while one child is recovering at home.

The tragedy triggered an outpouring of grief in the local community and around Australia. Floral tributes grew outside the school, with an online fundraiser for affected families raising more than Aus$1.4 million ($1 million).

Authorities have said that initial witness reports indicated the children were thrown from a height of about 10 metres (33 feet). Tasmanian authorities have started a probe into the incident, which they expect will “take some time”. Specialist police are being flown to the island state to assist with interviewing people who were at the outdoor party, which some 40 primary school children attended. —AFP

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