More than 500 injured in explosion at Taiwan water park

(CNN) — Taiwan’s Ministry of Health and Welfare put out a call for medical supplies and skin grafts for those injured after flammable powder exploded in midair at a recreational water park, Taiwanese media reported.

“The [Kaohsiung Health] department and Kaohsiung Veterans General Hospital, where the donated skin is stored, are standing by for deployment,” Wang Hsiao-hsing, Division Chief of Kaohsiung Dept. of Health, told the Central News Agency.

By early Sunday evening, there were no fatalities, but the total number of injuries had risen to 524, according to a Ministry of Health and Welfare report cited by CNA.

More than 40 hospitals are treating casualties, CNA reported.

Most of the victims are Taiwanese, but thirteen foreigners were injured, CNA says. The majority of injured foreigners are female. They include: four women from Hong Kong, two from mainland China, one each from Macau,Singapore and Malaysia and two from Japan. Other victims include a “European or American” man and one male of unknown national origin.

Of the injured, 182 are hospitalized in intensive care units, New Taipei public health officials said. More than 60 have been discharged after treatment.

Firefighters said the firestorm erupted around 8:30 p.m. Saturday (8:30 a.m. ET), when a flammable powder substance blew up over a stage at Formosa Fun Coast, according to a CNA report.

Video showed a massive fireball suddenly engulfing the stage, followed by screaming people running for their lives through flames.

Some people used large, inflated inner tubes as stretchers to carry out the injured, CNA reported.

After visiting with hospitalized victims, Taiwan’s Premier, Mao Chi-Kuo, announced a ban on color powder events while the incident is being investigated, according to CNA. In a video distributed by the government, he said the ban would be in place until color powder can be proven safe.

President Ma Ying-Jeou also met with people injured in the fire. He promised that the Taiwanese government would help the victims and promised a full investigation.

Five people have been questioned in connection with the blast, according to Tu Yi Te, secretary in chief of the Luzhou District police department. He said two of them are considered to be suspects — the organizer of the party and the person in charge of lighting and hardware. They have been brought to the prosecutor for further questioning, Tu said.

Mayor Eric Chu called it the “worst incident of mass injury (ever) in New Taipei,” Taiwan’s most populous city.

Formosa Fun Coast said the fiery explosion occurred during a “Color Play Asia” party put on by a separate marking company that leased out space at the park.

“We are very regretful (for) this accident that caused injuries to many victims,” Formosa Fun Coast said in a statement. “The most urgent matter currently for us is to handle and assist with … victims on the scene and work comprehensively with the New Taipei Fire Department.”

The organizer of “Color Play Asia” apologized and promised to take full responsibility, CNA reported.

“We need to apologize to the families. I am very sorry that something like this happened,” organizer Lu Chung-chi told CNA. “We shoulder ultimate responsibility.”

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