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Taiwan Water Park Fire Claims First Victim, Suspected Cause Of Explosion Revealed

Taipei (3)

On Saturday, news spread around of a terrible explosion and fire that took place at a water park in Taiwan for the event Color Day Asia. Initial reports said there were around 200-300 injuries with 80 of those being extremely severe, but unfortunately those numbers have only grown and now reach over 500 people.

Beyond that, the first victim of the event has passed away from burns that covered over 90% of her body. 17-year-old Hsueh Ming-chuan was laying on an inflatable boat when her Mom found her. "All her skin was gone. Her hands were shaking ... and she kept calling for me," her mother said, according to Taiwan's Central News Agency. Officials fear more will pass away as well.

Most reports claim the explosion was caused by colored powder that was sprayed across the audience, part of the event's theme. Other reports say this could have been caused by a spark from a cigarette that helped ignite the blaze, but official investigations are still taking place.

"It's still not clear what happened, but there were a number of people smoking and the weather was warm," New Taipei City news department head Lin Chieh-yu said. Temperatures around greater Taipei topped 36 degrees Celsius (96.8F) before the party.

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Police are recommending criminal charges against the promoters of the party, including two technicians at Formosa Theme park where the event took place. The three tons of colored starch-based powder bought by the organizers were flammable, said Chou Hui-fang, a representative of the seller. She said the buyer was informed about the risk of fire.

"Whether it's corn starch or flour starch, this kind of stuff, no matter how long it's been around, if it's in dense quantities and if it's hot, it can catch fire," Chou said. She said her 4-year-old company has been questioned by police and health officials but was not considered at fault. "We didn't know what the buyers were going to do with it or how much they would use," she said. "It might have been supplies for a whole year."

Taiwan Premier Mao Chi-kuo on Sunday banned use of the powder at future private events, and the water park was forced to close following the fire. Taiwan police recommended charges of professional neglect and public endangerment for party organizer Lu Chung-chi, who was arrested but released on bail of 1 million Taiwan dollars (US$32,000) bail and restricted from leaving the island, a New Taipei City police spokesman said.


Sources: CNN, USA Today

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