Explosion at Taiwan Water Park Injures Almost 500
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A Saturday night ‘Color Play Asia’ party at New Taipei, Taiwan’s Formosa Fun Coast water park abruptly ended in catastrophe when the event’s trademark showers of colored powder ignited into a fireball, injuring 498, CNN reported, via Taiwanese media.
Video footage shows a ball of flame filling the event stage, and then screaming individuals running through the flames.
According to CNN, mayor Eric Chu called it the "worst incident of mass injury (ever) in New Taipei," Taiwan's most populated city.
"The fire came too fast and nobody was able to run," said witness Huang Guan Zhang, 19. "Everybody was burned. ... Nobody could save others and people suffered severe burns."
Inflated inner tubes were used as impromptu stretchers to ferry the injured to safety.
According to China's Taipei-based Central News Agency and New Taipei public health officials, via CNN, there are no reported fatalities, but 202 of the 498 victims are in critical condition, with 182 placed in intensive care units. Sixty have already been discharged after treatment.
The wounded are spread across 43 hospitals, and Taiwan's Ministry of Health and Welfare is looking for help to replenish their dwindling stock of medical supplies and skin grafts.
Regarding nationalities of the victims, 485 of them are Taiwanese, and the 13 foreigners are from Hong Kong, mainland China, Japan, Singapore and Malaysia.
The New Taipei government said the nationalities of three of the victims have not been confirmed, but earlier reports said a "European or American" man was among the wounded.
Taiwan's Premier Mao Chi-Kuo visited some of the victims in the hospital, and afterwards, according to CNA, he declared a ban on color powder events until the substance can be proven safe.
President Ma Ying-Jeou also met with the injured, and promised the Taiwanese government would help the victims and promised a complete investigation.
"We are very regretful (for) this accident that caused injuries to many victims," Formosa Fun Coast said in a statement.
The "Color Play Asia" party organizer and the individual in charge of lighting and hardware are the two main suspects in the criminal investigation, according to CNN. They were brought in for questioning, released on bail, and then barred from leaving the country.
Lu Chung-chi, the party organizer apologized and said he would take full responsibility, CNA reported. "We need to apologize to the families. I am very sorry that something like this happened," Lu told CNA. "We shoulder ultimate responsibility."
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