Hundreds of people were injured last night when an inferno erupted during a party at the Formosa Fun Coast (八仙海岸) water park in New Taipei City’s Bali District (八里).
An explosion occurred about 8:30pm after colored powder that was sprayed over "Color Play Asia" partygoers in front of a stage apparently exploded in the air, triggering a fire that was quickly brought under control.
Initial reports of about 200 people being injured rose to more than 500 by early this morning, with at least 200 reported in serious condition. The numbers rose as authorities tracked victims who had taken themselves to nearby hospitals or been transported by friends or other people.
New Taipei City Mayor Eric Chu (朱立倫) arrived at the scene at 10:20pm last night. Due to the large number of injured, Chu asked for ambulance support from Taipei, Taoyuan and Keelung.
The New Taipei City government also used social messaging app Line to notify people about the incident and to urge them to avoid the park area.
Military personnel were deployed to help with rescue efforts at the park, where partygoers were using large inflatable swimming tubes and floats as stretchers to carry the injured from the park or tend to them until rescuers arrived.
Photo: AFP / Apple Daily / Miss Huang
Several victims, some of whom suffered burns over 40 percent of their bodies, were sent to Mackay Memorial Hospital in Tamsui District (淡水), Chang Kung Memorial Hospital in Linkou District (林口), both in New Taipei City, and Taipei Veterans General Hospital in Tianmu for emergency treatment.
Ministry of Health and Welfare spokesman Wang Che-chao (王哲超) early today said the injured were being treated at 43 hospitals in Taipei, New Taipei City, Taoyuan and Keelung.
The ministry said on its Web site that many of the victims would require skin grafts and the hospitals had put out urgent requests for other supplies to treat severe burns.
It also said that the injured, who were mostly in their late teens and 20s, included at least 13 foreigners.
Witnesses described the scene as "hell" as a ball of fire ripped through the crowd, most of whom were clad only in bathing suits.
Video footage showed crowds of people dancing in front of a stage and cheering as clouds of green and yellow powder were shot into the air above their heads.
The cheers turned to screams when the powder suddenly erupted into flames, engulfing many.
Eyewitnesses said some of those who had been burned jumped into a nearby pool, seeking relief from the pain, while others were helped by bystanders who poured water over them.
Authorities said in addition to skin burns, many of those hurt had suffered injuries caused by burns to the respiratory organs from inhaling the powders.
Police are investigating the cause of the accident. Five people, including the event manager, have been detained by police and are being questioned.
“Our initial understanding is this explosion and fire ... was caused by the powder spray. It could have been due to the heat of the lights on the stage," a spokesman for the New Taipei City fire department said.
Authorities have closed the park until further notice.
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