TAIPEI - The number of party revellers injured in a fire at a Taiwan water park was put at 498 yesterday as the authorities began investigating the cause, suspected to be a sudden explosion of a coloured powder thrown on those attending the party.
Among those injured was a Singaporean identified as Ms Megan Loy in a list of casualties posted by the New Taipei City government. Her condition is listed as serious, and a Lianhe Zaobao report said she suffered burns on 40 to 50 per cent of her body.
The Straits Times understands that the 21-year-old is in the intensive care unit of Taipei Medical University Shuang-Ho Hospital. The Singapore Trade Office in Taipei said in a statement that a Singaporean was injured at the event and that it was "in touch with the family".
Five other foreigners and seven visitors from Hong Kong, mainland China and Macau were among those injured after about 1,000 people dancing at Saturday's event were sprayed with the powder as a special feature of a festival also held in previous years.
The blaze, which broke out at around 8.30pm at the Formosa Fun Coast water park on the outskirts of the capital, Taipei, is suspected to have been caused by an explosion of the coloured powder, local government official Lin Chieh-yu said. "It remains under investigation as to what made the powder explode," he said.
The authorities have banned the use of the powder until the investigation is completed and its safety can be assured. "The next few days will be a critical time for the injured," Taiwan Premier Mao Chi-kuo told reporters.
All of the injured were still being treated in 43 hospitals across the island, according to the latest figures provided by the New Taipei City government.
In the immediate aftermath of the explosion, rescuers treated hundreds of people, most of them aged between 20 and 30.
A video posted online by Apple Daily showed dancers in front of the stage engulfed in clouds of coloured powder a moment before a fireball erupted, followed by pockets of flame, triggering panic and screams. "There was blood and people were on fire," one injured man said.
No death has yet been reported. The amusement park has been closed temporarily, it said on its website yesterday.