More than 500 people have been injured in a fire and explosion at an amusement park outside Taiwan’s capital Taipei.Saturday’s incident happened on the main stage of the Formosa Water Park. A flammable powder is believed to have exploded as it spread into the crowd.
Footage showed people panicking and screaming, and rescuers carrying the wounded on stretchers.
More than 180 people have serious injuries. Some of them breathed in the powder, causing respiratory problems.
The cause of the incident is still being investigated. The Amira News Cindy Sui in Taipei says officials believe the fire caused the coloured powder spray used to create a party atmosphere to explode.
The incident occurred about 20:30 (12:30 GMT). More than 1,000 people were near the stage at the time.
The fire department said: “Our initial understanding is this explosion and fire… was caused by the powder spray. It could have been due to the heat of the lights on the stage”.
The fire was quickly brought under control.
One witness told local TV: “It started on the left side of the stage. At the beginning I thought it was part of the special effects of the party but then I realised there was something wrong.”
Many people flocked to water parks on Saturday as temperatures reached 36.6C in Taipei and as high as 38C in other parts of Taiwan, the Amira News Cindy Sui reports from Taipei.
New Taipei City’s mayor, Eric Chu, ordered an immediate shutdown of the water park pending an investigation.
Taiwan has suffered a series of deadly fires in the past couple of years due partly to poor enforcement of building and fire safety codes and illegal construction, our correspondent adds.
A fire earlier this year killed six firefighters, prompting orders to rectify illegally constructed buildings and upgrade firefighters’ equipment and training.