The fire that turned a June 27 concert at the Formosa Fun Coast (八仙海岸) water park into the nation’s deadliest amusement park disaster was caused by colored cornstarch being ignited by stage lights, an official report said this week.
The cornstarch that had been sprayed over hundreds of partygoers at a Color Play Asia event exploded when it came into contact with the lights, whose surface temperatures reached more than 400°C, the report by the New Taipei City Fire Department said.
In the report, a special investigation taskforce said a careful assessment of the evidence and repeated experiments had shown that the heat given off by 200-watt incandescent bulbs in a row of portable “Beam 200” moving-head stage lights ignited the cornstarch, sparking the deadly blaze.
Photo: Wang Yi-sung, Taipei Times
The lights had been placed on the right-hand side of the stage near the front.
The taskforce, which included fire department officials and forensic scientists from the Criminal Investigation Bureau, concluded that the staff working the Color Play Asia event had created a dense aerial concentration of colored cornstarch, using air blowers and compressed gas canisters, of more than 45g/m3.
The taskforce’s experiments discovered that running the “Beam 200” lights for several hours raises their interior heat to 1,000°C, while their surface temperature reached more than 400°C.
The colored cornstarch used at the event burns at 430°C, the taskforce said.
Enough of the powder came into contact with the heated lights that it ignited, while the airflow allowed the flame to billow, making it appear as if there had been a massive explosion, the report said.
The taskforce said it had initially focused on three possible causes for the fire: electrostatic, an open fire source such as a cigarette or lighter, or heat from electrical devices.
Investigators said they conducted a number of experiments to eliminate the possibility that a burning cigarette or lighter flame could have sparked the fire, with neither able to reach a high enough temperature to ignite cornstarch.
Meteorological data from the day showed that humidity levels were high enough to discount electrostatic charges as a cause, they said.
As part of their investigation, the taskforce summoned the supplier of the “Beam 200” lights, the technical crew and other workers at the event for questioning to determine the electrical circuit layout and operation of the stage lights.
A total of 508 people were injured in the fire, 11 of whom have since died. As of yesterday, 208 were still hospitalized, 42 of whom were listed in critical condition and 78 in intensive care.
Three defendants have been released on bail as prosecutors investigate them on charges of offences against public safety and negligence causing deaths.
Six others are being investigated, including the chairman and the president of the water park.
IMMIGRATION REFORM: The legislative amendments aim to protect the rights of families to reunify, and to attract skilled professionals to stay and work in Taiwan Foreigners who are highly skilled professionals, top-prize winners in professional disciplines, investment immigration applicants or have made special contributions to Taiwan can soon apply for permanent residency on behalf of their spouses and minor or disabled children after the legislature approved amendments to the Immigration Act (入出國及移民法). The amendments, which were proposed by the Ministry of the Interior and approved by the Executive Yuan on Jan. 12, aim to attract foreign talent to Taiwan and encourage them to stay. They would take effect once they are signed by President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文). The amendments involved changing 63 articles, making it the biggest
FIRST STEP: Business groups in Taiwan welcomed the deal, which does not include tariff reductions at this stage, as they called for the elimination of double taxation Taiwan and the US yesterday signed an initial agreement under the US-Taiwan Initiative on 21st-Century Trade. The agreement was signed yesterday morning by Representative to the US Hsiao Bi-khim (蕭美琴) and American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) Managing Director Ingrid Larson in Washington, the Office of Trade Negotiations in Taipei said. The ceremony was witnessed by Minister Without Portfolio John Deng (鄧振中) and Deputy US Trade Representative Sarah Bianchi. Taiwan and the US started talks under the initiative in August last year, after Taipei was left out of the Washington-led Indo-Pacific Economic Framework. “The deal that will be signed tonight is not only very historic,
Beijing yesterday blamed US “provocation” for an incident last week in which a Chinese plane crossed in front of a US surveillance aircraft over the South China Sea. The incident came at a time of frayed ties between Washington and Beijing over issues including Taiwan and the shooting down of an alleged Chinese spy balloon that flew over the US this year. “The United States’ long-term and frequent sending of ships and planes to conduct close surveillance on China seriously harms China’s national sovereignty and security,” Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson Mao Ning (毛寧) said when asked about the latest incident. “This
‘GLOBAL NETWORK’: The only way to deter a Chinese invasion is for the international community to unite in its resolve, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Roy Lee said Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Roy Lee (李淳) yesterday urged democratic nations around the world to not let Beijing dictate the definition of their “one China” policies, saying that they should increase cooperation with Taiwan to build a resilient democratic network. Lee made the remarks during his speech, titled “Ukraine and Taiwan: Why Global Unity Matters,” at the annual Bratislava Forum in Slovakia. “People in Taiwan have been paying close attention to the situation in Ukraine and admire Ukrainians for defending their homeland. They are [also] fighting for Taiwan and democratic countries around the world,” Lee told forum participants. “The international