NICOSIA - A parents group yesterday called on the authorities to launch a safety investigation into the use of water walking balls after a 13-year-old boy was killed in an accident in an amusement park in Greece.
Speaking to The Cyprus Daily, head of the Pancyprian Primary Schools’ Parents’ Association Maria Savva confirmed the organisation would be contacting the relevant ministries to find out whether the rides in question are in operation in Cyprus and whether they pose a threat to children and other users.
“We believe that rides of this type are popular in the Famagusta district and other coastal areas and want an investigation to be launched as a matter of urgency to determine what dangers they pose.”
A water ball or water walking ball is a large inflatable sphere that allows a person inside it to walk across the surface of a body of water.
The spheres are usually two metres in diameter and have a zippered entrance to allow entry and exit.
The tragic accident in southern Athens on Sunday caused the death of a 13-year-old boy and seriously injured his nine-year-old sister.
According to reports the children were playing inside the inflatable which was floating on a swimming pool when strong sudden winds lifted the ball from the water and smashed it onto a metallic barrier about 30 metres away.
While the police investigation is still at the early stages the Greek authorities have attributed the accident to freak weather conditions but also human error.
Savva confirmed that the parents’ association is in the process of preparing a letter to be sent to the Ministry of Education calling for more stringent checks on amusement parks and other play areas where children frequent.
“These include parks, theatres, restaurants and other places of entertainment where children are regularly taken to on school trips.
“To avoid other tragedies in the future there must be clarification over which business have been given final safety approval from the fire services, police and the Ministry of Labour.”
Several countries have warned of the dangers of using water walking balls.
There are recorded instances of children fainting and crashing onto hard surfaces while inside the balls.
Among the concerns is that oxygen can be depleted inside the ball, and dangerous carbon dioxide levels can accumulate in a matter of minutes.