400 in hospital with burns after freak explosion at water park
More than 400 people were taken to hospital after many were seriously burned when a fire spread into a crowd at a music party in Taiwan.
The fire was sparked by an accidental explosion of a coloured theatrical powder thrown from the stage in front of about 1,000 people at the evening in a water park.
The powder ignited along the ground, mainly burning people's lower bodies, said Wang Wei-sheng, a spokesman for the New Taipei City fire department command centre.
The exact cause of the fire was still being investigated, but Taiwan Premier Mao Chih-kuo banned public activities that use the coloured powder.
"It remains under investigation as to what made the powder explode," one official said.
A total of 519 people, mostly aged between 20 and 30, were injured by the fire at the Formosa Water Park in New Taipei City,
More than 400 remained in hospital last night, about half of whom were seriously injured, including 184 in intensive care.
A video posted online showed dancers in front of the stage engulfed in clouds of coloured powder a moment before a fireball erupted, followed by pockets of flame, triggering panic and screams.
Other videos from the event showed rescue workers and bystanders carrying burned and injured people on their backs, in inflatable boats and on stretchers to get medical treatment.
One man at the party said: "There was blood everywhere, including in the pool where lots of the injured were soaking themselves for relief from the pain."
One victim, an 18-year-old from Taiwan, sustained burns on 90pc of her body.
Apart from Taiwanese, the victims were four people from Hong Kong, two from the Chinese mainland and one each from Macau, Japan, Malaysia and Singapore. The nationalities of three other foreigners were not known.
"The next few days will be a critical time for the injured," Taiwan Premier Mao Chih-kuo said.
President Ma Ying-jeou visited burns victims at a hospital in Taipei yesterday afternoon and said authorities would do their best to ensure victims receive "the best medical care" and find out who was responsible for the "tragic incident".
"Her whole life is ruined," sobbed the father of Chu Li, an 18-year-old girl with burns on 80pc of her body, during the visit by President Ma Ying-jeou.
Police have been questioning two park workers who had launched the powder, as well as the party's on-site organiser and two technicians.
They may face charges of professional negligence causing serious injuries and endangering the public, it said.