The Department of Labour is investigating an incident in which five girls were hurt on a malfunctioning ride at Gisborne’s A&P Show this morning.

An inspector visited the site and was talking to emergency services and other agencies in its investigation.

The girls, aged between seven and 12, were taken to Gisborne Hospital after the Explorer joy ride, billed as New Zealand’s fastest ride, malfunctioned.

Four of the girls were treated for minor to moderate back and limb injuries. A 10-year-old girl will remain in Gisborne Hospital overnight.

Many children were battered and bruised as they staggered from the fully loaded machine.

“How those kids managed to stay on the ride I don’t know. They were getting flung around like ragdolls,” one mother said.

One girl who was thrown from the ride was only saved from more serious injury by landing on a woman waiting at a nearby attraction, the Gisborne Herald reported.

The mother of an eight-year-old boy on the Explorer said parents and bystanders were screaming for the ride to stop.

“The ride was full and just as it was going to go backwards and go into a wide swing it started jerking really fast.

“It was going really high and fast and that is when the little girl flew out,” she said.

The Explorer, owned by Mahon’s Amusements, has been shut down during the investigation.