The South Australian Government has been forced to admit that a series of failures caused the deaths of six residents of the Waterworks District in South Australia.
The deaths came to light on Tuesday, after a report by the State Emergency Service revealed that the emergency services were unable to provide sufficient resources to respond to the emergencies at the district’s waterworks.
The Department of Health confirmed on Tuesday afternoon that the deaths occurred during a “serious incident” at the Water Works District in Adelaide, and confirmed that the health service had launched an investigation.
“At about 5:15am on Monday 19 February 2017, the Water District’s operational response team received a call for assistance from a residential household,” the statement read.
“The emergency response team attended the scene and found the six deceased residents.
A second call for help from the community was received at about 6:15pm and this time the six residents were located and taken to hospital.”
It is understood that the residents died from heat stroke, and that the cause of death was still unknown.
The waterworks district, located in the southern suburb of North Adelaide, has been operating under a “critical incident” alert since January, when a leak caused a gas leak at the nearby gas plant.
The area has been shut down for more than five months due to a shortage of gas, but the situation has now been upgraded to a “major incident” as the South Australian government’s Civil Engineering Department announced on Tuesday that the district would be closed indefinitely.
A spokesperson for the Department of Public Health told the ABC that the department was “working with the Water Authority and local authorities to provide appropriate response and support to residents affected by this incident.”
The spokesperson also confirmed that “there was no risk to the public at the time” and “no further details would be released until the investigation is complete”.
The Waterworks Department did not immediately respond to The Drum’s request for comment.
The South Australia Government confirmed that six people have died during the “major incidents” at South Australia’s water supply.
It also said that “the Water District will be closed for the remainder of the year” and that “no public access is currently being offered to residents”.
A Department of State spokesperson said that the state’s emergency services “are responding to an incident” in the waterworks, which “may include, but is not limited to, a leak at a gas facility, or a fire at a facility”.