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Taiwan water park powder explosion claims sixth life

16 July 2015

On July 16, Taiwanese authorities announced the death toll from the New Taipei City water park explosion and fire had reached six, and medical sources say others are likely to die given the severity of burns experienced by others who have survived thus far. The incident happened during a concert when coloured powder was shot from the stage and ignited, causing a fireball that enveloped hundreds of spectators. 

Stock image
Stock image

According to AFP, the first victim lived for two days with 90% burns before expiring. Since then, five more have succumbed to their injuries, the latest dying on July 15.

"We and many other hospitals are struggling to keep the severely injured alive," Chao You-chen, head of Taipei's Tzu Chi Hospital, told AFP. He said the situation, with hundreds suffering serious burn injuries, was unprecedented in the country.

Currently 387 people remain in hospital, with 199 in critical condition - 21 of whom have more than 80% burns. Most of the victims of the conflagration are between 18 and 25 years old.

Specialists from Japan have flown in to advise on the treatment of the seriously injured and Taiwan has had to import metres of skin for grafts.

The cause of the fire has yet to be determined, with authorities saying that either a cigarette or heat and sparks from stage lights could have ignited the powder. The company that supplied the corn starch powder to event organisers - Color Play Asia - said it had warned of its flammability.

Three suspects have been released on bail as prosecutors investigate them on charges of offences against public safety and negligence causing deaths. Six more are being investigated, Taipei prosecutors said, including both the chairman and the president of the water park.

Assets of the water park, Color Play Asia and the event's marketing company have been frozen, pending the criminal case, so that they can be used for compensation.

The government has said it will pay for all medical expenses while victims are in hospital, with the possibility of further support for rehabilitation as families face bills for long-term treatment.

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