Friday 30 September 2016

Woman dies after Taiwan water park blaze as over 200 party goers in serious condition

Cigarette may have sparked blaze that burned over 500 people at water park

Published 29/06/2015 | 08:25

A person helps an injured victim from an accidental explosion during a music concert at the Formosa Water Park in New Taipei City, Taiwan REUTERS/Wang Wei
A person helps an injured victim from an accidental explosion during a music concert at the Formosa Water Park in New Taipei City, Taiwan REUTERS/Wang Wei

A young woman died on Monday, the first fatality among nearly 500 casualties from a weekend blaze at a Taiwan water park, officials said, as investigators focused on the coloured powder that rained fire as it was sprayed over revellers from a stage.

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Officials said more than 200 of those being treated after Saturday's fire at the Formosa Fun Coast water park in New Taipei City remained in a serious condition.

A 20-year-old woman succumbed on Monday afternoon after suffering second degree burns on over 90 percent of her body, health authorities said.

Investigators were seeking a reason why the corn flour mix of coloured powder combusted after being sprayed over the partygoers from a machine mounted on a stage.

Police investigators inspect the stage area after the fire at the Formosa Water Park (AP)
Police investigators inspect the stage area after the fire at the Formosa Water Park (AP)
An injured victim from an explosion during a music concert is treated at the Formosa Water Park in New Taipei City (AP)
Injured victims from an accidental explosion during a music concert lie on the ground at the Formosa Water Park in New Taipei City, Taiwan REUTERS/Chen Bo
People carry an injured victim from an accidental explosion during a music concert at the Formosa Water Park in New Taipei City, Taiwan REUTERS/Chen Bo
People carry an injured victim from an accidental explosion during a music concert at the Formosa Water Park in New Taipei City, Taiwan REUTERS/Wu Chia

"The source of the heat is still under investigation," said Kevin Lo, an official with the city fire department. "The powder itself is not considered a dangerous good."

Read more: Hundreds burned at Taiwan water park party when fire spreads from stage to spectators

Investigators are looking at three main possibilities: cigarette embers, a lighter, or electrical sparks, Lo told Reuters Monday.

Chou Hui-fang, an official with Taiwon Foods, the central Taiwan-based powder manufacturer which supplied the powder for Saturday's event, said that the powder is edible, but it is made of carbohydrates, so it should not be put near any heat source.

Injured victims from an accidental explosion during a music concert lie on the ground at the Formosa Water Park in New Taipei City, Taiwan REUTERS/Wang Wei
Injured victims from an accidental explosion during a music concert lie on the ground at the Formosa Water Park in New Taipei City, Taiwan REUTERS/Wang Wei
In this screen grab taken from ETTV, ambulances arrive after an accidental explosion during a music concert at the Formosa Water Park in New Taipei City, Taiwan (ETTV via AP)

The use of color powder has gained popularity in Taiwan in recent years to lend more festivity to public events. It has been widely used in marathons.

The municipal government for New Taipei City, which surrounds the capital Taipei, said that the water park had violated regulations by not applying for the required permission to host the party.

The event organizer Lu Chung-chi was detained by police, questioned and released on bail. The local prosecutor's office was unavailable to comment on the case.

On live television on Sunday, Lu apologized on his knees to the public for the incident. The president of the water park also apologized on Monday.

In this screen grab taken from ETTV, an injured concert spectator is treated after an accidental explosion during a music concert at the Formosa Water Park in New Taipei City, Taiwan (ETTV via AP)
In this screen grab taken from ETTV, an injured concert spectator is treated after an accidental explosion during a music concert at the Formosa Water Park in New Taipei City, Taiwan (ETTV via AP)
In this screen grab taken from ETTV, injured concert spectators are treated after an accidental explosion during a music concert at the Formosa Water Park in New Taipei City, Taiwan (ETTV via AP)

"We rented it out like you rent a house. You don't expect something like this to happen," water park president Chen Hui-ying said in tears on live television.

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