More than 500 people have been sent to hospitals in Taiwan with burns after a fire broke out at a water park party late Saturday. Authorities say the blaze started when powder intended for festive lighting was accidentally ignited near the party stage.
The incident late Saturday in a Taipei suburb touched off a fire along the ground of the Formosa Fun Coast, a water theme park where about 1,000 people were gathered for a privately organized party called Color Play Asia. A New Taipei City fire department official said most of the 516 who were reported hurt suffered burns to their lower bodies.
Taiwan Premier Mao Chi-kuo told reporters Sunday the priority was to ensure the victims had proper medication. Local media said eight had life-threatening injuries.
Mao said that due to the scale and rather large number of injured, everyone’s focus is on medication, especially skin treatment. He added that after an initial inventory, the quantity of medical resources was not a problem.
Local media images showed paramedics and bystanders carrying burn victims out of the water park late Saturday night on inflatable rafts. At hospitals around Taipei, burn victims and relatives expressed sorrow as well as anger. Two foreigners and four people from China were among those hurt.
Fire officials are still investigating the cause of the incident, which they believe was an accident. They suspect the explosion may have been caused by a mixture of air and concentrated combustible particles. The powder was meant to flash colors as part of a stage performance.
The water park has closed, and authorities are gathering evidence that could lead to charges of professional neglect or public endangerment against an event organizer and as many as four other people. The government has also ordered a ban on future use of colored theatrical powder at private events.
Taiwan President Ma Ying-jeou visited victims at one Taipei hospital and pledged to find the people responsible for the fire.