TAIPEI: Around 160 people were injured when a suspected dust explosion caused a fire at a theme park yesterday in one of the biggest accidents in New Taipei City in recent history.

Fire broke out at 8:40 p.m. on a stage and spread across the surrounding area at the water park inside the Formosa Fun Coast in Bali, New Taipei. According to some local media outlets, the park was holding what it billed as the biggest "color party" in Asia when the accident took place. Similar events, in which powder of varied hues is spread on revelers, have been gaining popularity in Taiwan in recent years.

Around 200 revelers were present at the scene when the fire broke out. At 11 p.m., 160 people were reported to have suffered from burns and scalding, with 70 suffering from serious injuries. Cable news channel TVBS reported that one person showed no life signs.

The news channel quoted witnesses at the scene as suggesting that many at the center of the fire were not able to flee as people on the periphery were unaware of the blast as visibility was reduced by heavy colored powder hovering in the air. Many of the revelers were wearing swimsuits or thin clothing at the time, exposing their skin to the fire.

Responder Overwhelmed by High Injury Number

The large number of the injured overwhelmed first responders. Dozens of people were waiting for treatment at the theme park hours after the fire even though fire departments in New Taipei and Taipei had dispatched more than 70 ambulances to the scene. Some victims had to drive to the hospitals on their own while others poured water on their wounds to relieve the pain while waiting.

The New Taipei Fire Department dispatched dozens of fire trucks and other first response vehicles to the scene, extinguishing the fire around 9 p.m.

Firefighters have yet to determine the cause of the blast. Local media suggested that a dust explosion — the sudden ignition of a mixture of air and concentrations of combustible fine particles — could have been the cause.

New Taipei City Mayor Eric Chu arrived at the fire scene last night. As of press time, the New Taipei City government had formally requested the Taipei City government and the military for assistance.

Courtesy The China Post