A woman died and another was seriously hurt when they were flung from a chair swing ride at an annual funfair in central France, emergency services have said.

The two had been more than 10 metres up in the air, in one of several "flying" pods attached to large arms spinning around a massive central mast, when their capsule was tossed to the ground last night.

When rescuers arrived at the scene in the central town of Firminy, a 24-year-old woman was already dead.

The other woman in the pod, 20, was taken into emergency hospital care, the fire brigade told AFP.

Police said four people were taken into custody.

Experts were making their way to the scene to examine the rides, both under lockdown, to determine what had caused the tragedy, which occurred in very strong winds.

The funfair is one of France's biggest, held for two weeks in Firminy every October with 250 rides and attractions and some 100,000 visitors.

Funfair incidents are not unknown in France. 

In March last year, a man died when a similar "flying" swing ride collapsed near Lyon, throwing out the occupants of 14 pods.

And on 31 December, eight people spent much of their New Year's Eve stuck up in the air when a giant ride got stuck in the northern city of Rennes.