Taiwan commemorates first anniversary of deadly blast at water park which killed 15

Singapore singer JJ Lin (right) receiving flowers from a victim injured in last year's water park explosion, after performing at a music concert in Taipei to mark the accident's first anniversary.
Singapore singer JJ Lin (right) receiving flowers from a victim injured in last year's water park explosion, after performing at a music concert in Taipei to mark the accident's first anniversary.PHOTO: AFP
Relatives of victims bowing during the concert to thank the public for their support.
Relatives of victims bowing during the concert to thank the public for their support.PHOTO: AFP
Ms Lai Si-yu, who was injured in the accident, performing during the concert.
Ms Lai Si-yu, who was injured in the accident, performing during the concert.PHOTO: AFP

TAIPEI (AFP) - Taiwan on Sunday (June 26) marked the first anniversary of an explosion which killed 15 and injured hundreds at a water park as victims and their relatives demanded justice for those responsible.

Just one organiser of the party at the park which ended in disaster has been sentenced so far.

Hundreds of survivors and relatives gathered for a memorial concert in Taipei to remember the dead and express their gratitude to medical, social and charity workers.

Almost 500 were injured in the blast at Formosa Fun Coast outside Taipei, when clouds of multi-coloured corn starch sprayed on revellers at a "colour party" ignited due to heat from stage lights.

The park had rented out its premises to an events company for the party.

Horrific video footage showed partygoers - mostly aged between 18 and 25 - screaming as they tried to escape the raging flames.

 
 

Prosecutors last year indicted only the party organiser Lu Chung-chi, who was among nine people - including the chairman and president of the park - being probed in the case.

Outraged victims and their families appealed for a new investigation, which was formally opened last month.

In April Lu was sentenced to four years and 10 months in prison for negligence leading to death, as the court cited the "excruciating pain" of the bereaved.

But victims said the sentence was too light and the park's executives should also be held accountable.

"It is unacceptable that 15 people were killed but only the party organiser got a four-plus-year jail term. That's not justice. We bought tickets from the water park and it should be held responsible," said 26-year-old accountant Huang Ching-chun, who has been on sick leave from her job since the accident.

More than 200 of the partygoers were seriously injured, some with more than 90 per cent burns - leading to amputations in some cases. Although all have now been released from hospital, many are still enduring painful rehabilitation or surgery.

Chen Wei-han, a 25-year-old former swim coach, said she just wants to "return to my normal life and be able to look after myself" after she was hospitalised for seven months with burns to nearly 70 per cent of her face and body.

"The water park and New Taipei City government were both responsible for this huge public safety disaster. The victims and their families deserve justice," Chen's father added.