At least 516 people were injured during an event at a water park in Taiwan on Saturday night after some colored powder sprayed onto the crowd caught fire, igniting a conflagration that caused severe burns to the partygoers. Some of the victims, mostly young people in their 20s, suffered burns over large areas of their bodies (in one woman’s case, 90 percent) and will require skin grafts. The New York Times has more on the cause of the firestorm:
The public’s focus immediately turned attention to the colored powder — what the organizer claimed on its Facebook page to be cornstarch mixed with food coloring — that was sprayed at high velocity on revelers from a stage. Many people asked how, if it was flammable, the mixture was allowed to be used at such events, several of which have taken place in Taiwan in recent years.
Taiwan’s prime minister, Mao Chi-kuo, told reporters on Sunday that events using airborne, colored powder would be banned and that the government would set up a group to deal with the treatment and rehabilitation of people who were injured.
The footage above, posted by Apple Daily, shows revelers at the Color Play Asia event dancing in front of the stage as the powder is sprayed at high velocity over the crowd, then suddenly ignites. The Associated Press gives the total number of injured as 519 and adds that 419 remained hospitalized as of Sunday afternoon, including 184 in intensive care. The park workers who launched the colored powder and the party’s organizers may face charges over the tragic incident.