More on yesterday’s Freimarkt accident. And sorry international visitors, but all links are in German since this is not exactly a news item of international importance.
Radio Bremen reports that experts found a hairline crack and a bit of rust at the holder of the affected gondola. They also found another hairline crack at a gondola that did have problems. The hairline cracks were not visible when the ride was set up, which is probably why they weren’t noticed earlier.
This fits what I heard today, when I was discussing the accident with a couple of engineers at one of my translation customers’ today, some of whom actually were at the Freimarkt yesterday (though none witnessed the accident) and one of whom used to work at the carousel manufacturer Huss Rides. They all suspected a fatigue fracture. Fatigue fractures are a common problem with heavily used machinery parts, that’s e.g. why airplane parts (and I presume carousel parts) have to be replaced regularly. However, while the Kraken itself is over thirty years old, the gondola holders were completely refurbished and replaced six years ago, e.g. it’s not as if the accident was caused by a thirty-plus year old component. Like I said yesterday, the Kraken is a very well maintained ride.
The badly injured woman is stable and out of critical condition by now, thank heavens. Reports are contradictory whether she was in the gondola or waiting at the sidelines. Luckily, the gondola was not at the highest position (the Kraken arms move up and down) or the accident would likely have been worse.
In fact, I strongly suspect that the accident happened during what I call “scramble mode” – a phase towards the end of the ride (the Kraken is computer-controlled – the movements are pre-programmed and always the same) when all gondolas are on the ground and spinning very quickly, moving like a handmixer. The eye witness reports, that the gondola broke off and skittered all across the ride platform, would seem to point in that direction.
One factor that probably contributed to the injuries on the ground was probably the chaotic passenger loading process at the Kraken and other flat and round rides. Basically, you wait at the sidelines barely a meter from the spinning carousel for your turn and as soon as it slows down, there is a mad scramble for the gondolas, because the Kraken is popular and almost always full (ditto for the Breakdancer and other popular spinning rides). I’ve sometimes had to wait for two or three turns, because I don’t feel like rushing onto a still moving piece of heavy machinery and fighting twelve-year-olds for a seat. An orderly queue could probably cut down on the problems during the passenger load-up.
Radio Bremen also has a video report about the accident (from the local TV news) on their website. I just watched the report on TV and thought, “Crap. It’s the yellow arm [the gondolas on the five arms have different colours]. I often ride on the yellow arm.”
In other and more pleasant news, I am interviewed by Alain Gomez at Book Brouhaha. Come on over and say hello.