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Riders of Belgian roller coaster stuck upside down for 1 1/2 hours

August 28, 1997 GMT

WAVRE, Belgium (AP) _ A speeding loop-the-loop roller coaster known for churning stomachs, sent blood rushing to riders’ heads when it stopped suddenly in the middle of a loop, stranding passengers upside down for an hour and a half.

Firefighters eventually rescued the unlucky victims at the popular Walibi amusement park, 13 miles south of Brussels. Nine people were taken to a hospital in nearby Ottignies for treatment.

The park’s Scirocco coaster normally loops the loop twice at 50 mph.

But things went wrong late Wednesday - and the ride got stuck at the top of a loop, for an as-yet undetermined reason.

The experience rattled many of the riders.

Francois Roger said he began to lose strength in his arms and legs as he tried to hold himself in the coaster.

``I didn’t know how I was going to hold on,″ he said. ``At the end I didn’t know whether I was going to be rescued or not. ″

His sister, Deborah Roger, said she was hurt ``especially with bruises from where the bar was holding me.″

None of the victims was seriously injured, mainly because they were young and healthy, doctors at the hospital in Ottignies said.

``They were in a position where their heads were hanging down, which may cause problems especially if you have had vascular problems before, incidents of blood clotting and when it’s very hot you might get pain in the spine,″ Dr. Ernest Wibin said. ``Because they were all young people the tests have shown there should be no lasting neurological problems.″

The ride was to stay closed until officials determined the cause of the breakdown.