Stoke & Staffordshire

Alton Towers Galactica ride leaves 28 stranded in heavy rain

Galactica rollercoaster Image copyright Merlin Entertainments
Image caption Riders were suspended lying face down in the rain near the summit of the rollercoaster's highest drop of 20m (66ft)

Dozens of people were left stranded on a rollercoaster at Alton Towers when heavy rain caused it to stop.

The park's new Galactica ride, which simulates space travel using virtual reality headsets, came to a halt at the Staffordshire theme park on Monday.

Twenty-eight riders were stuck lying face down near the top of the highest drop of 20m (66ft) for 20 minutes.

A spokeswoman for Alton Towers said heavy rain had obscured a sensor and the ride automatically stopped.

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"This is a standard safety feature on this ride and the ride was working exactly as it is designed to do," she said.

Image copyright Debbie Watkins
Image caption Amelia Watkins, back and Sophie Ashton said they were given tickets to return to the theme park

Amelia Watkins, from Shrewsbury, had attended the theme park the day before her 14th birthday with her friend Sophie Ashton.

Amelia's mother Debbie went to meet them at Galactica and watched as the ride was halted.

She said: "I thought 'oh dear they're up there'. I could see all these people just hanging there."

Image copyright Debbie Watkins
Image caption Amelia Watkins and Sophie Ashton were both on the Galactica ride

Sophie said: "When we got to the top it all stopped. We took the glasses off and realised we were up in the air.

"It looked as if we were going to fall. We could see Nemesis going round underneath us.

"There were two people in front crying and some people were shouting for help. We were a bit worried.

"The people [Alton Towers staff] came up to say we would be safe and we would be getting down."

Mrs Watkins said: "They were shaken and wet because it was hammering it down with rain. Their hands were icy cold."

Image copyright @_ben_jamming/PA
Image caption Monday's incident happened less than a year after a crash on the theme park's Smiler rollercoaster left several people badly injured

Galactica opened last month and is a £12m upgrade from a previous rollercoaster attraction called Air.

Monday's incident comes less than a year after the Smiler rollercoaster crash, which left two women needing to have legs amputated.

The theme park's owner, Merlin Attractions, later admitted a health and safety breach.

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