Monday 29 June 2015

Taipei water park blast: 'It was hell' after ball of fire turns joy to terror

The Straits Times, 29 Jun 2015

TAIPEI (AFP) - Witnesses described the scene at a Taiwan water park as "hell" after a ball of fire ripped through a crowd at a "colour party" on Saturday.

The blast occurred as coloured powder that was being sprayed on the partygoers ignited.

Amateur video footage showed young revellers dancing in front of a stage and cheering as clouds of green and yellow powder covered them.

But their joy turned to terror when the powder suddenly erupted in flames, engulfing them in an inferno as they ran screaming for their lives.

Some were dressed only in swimwear. Images from the scene showed many with severe burns being cared for.

One male student who sustained minor injuries described the scene as "hell".

"There was blood everywhere, including in the pool where lots of the injured were soaking themselves for relief from the pain," he told reporters.

His visibly shaken girlfriend added: "I saw lots of people whose skin was gone."

Ambulances had struggled to reach the scene, and victims were carried away on rubber rings and inflatable dinghies as friends desperately tried to get them out. Around 1,000 revellers were at the Colour Play Asia event at Formosa Fun Coast water park, according to officials.

Several major hospitals in Taiwan have been asked to donate skin grafts and surgical equipment to help treat the injured, the Ministry of Health and Welfare said.

One father broke down as he spoke of how his daughter was in intensive care with third-degree burns. "She was attending a music concert... Why would there be an explosion?"

The water park issued a statement yesterday saying it was "deeply saddened" and would cooperate with the ongoing probe.

General manager Chen Hui- ying told reporters all partygoers had been insured, but did not say to what amount. "Throwing coloured corn starch around... We had never heard such an activity could be dangerous," she said.

Deputy fire chief Chen Chung-yueh of the New Taipei City fire department said yesterday that the blast might have been caused by "sparks from machinery or lighting equipment".

Five people, including event manager Lu Chung-chi, were detained by police. They are being questioned by prosecutors on charges of offences against public safety and negligence of duties that caused severe injuries, a police spokesman said.

【架恐怖】消防員實測粉塵爆 威力驚人
Posted by 蘋果日報即時新聞 on Sunday, June 28, 2015

Singaporean among nearly 500 injured in Taiwan festival fire
The Straits Times, 29 Jun 2015

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.


The Color Run event in Sentosa on Aug 23 and 24 is safe, say its organisers, in the aftermath of the fire at the Taipei...
Posted by The Straits Times on Monday, June 29, 2015

Doctors acted fast to get Singaporean burn victim Megan Loy home for treatment
By Janice Tai, The Straits Times, 2 Jul 2015

All it took was for two doctors to care enough to take action and Singaporean burn victim Megan Loy was able to be treated at Singapore General Hospital's (SGH's) renowned Burns Centre within a couple of days.

The morning after the blaze on Saturday night, her parents had made their way to Taipei Medical University Shuang-Ho Hospital from China. But they felt flustered because the doctors there were too busy with the mass casualties.

Taipei water park fire: All it took was for two doctors to care enough to take action and Singaporean burn victim Megan...
Posted by The Straits Times on Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Unbeknown to them, Dr Tan Bien Keem was in Singapore peering worriedly over a news report about the fire. The head of plastic, reconstructive and aesthetic surgery at SGH wondered if he could do anything for the Singaporean victim. He got in touch with fellow plastic surgeon Chew Khong Yik from KK Women's and Children's Hospital, who he knew was in Taiwan. Once Dr Chew was alerted, she was at the hospital on Monday morning.

There, she drew on her contacts to request medical information on Ms Loy and sat down with the anxious parents.

Mr Joseph Loy, Ms Loy's father, said: "She did an assessment and explained to us the urgency of sending Megan back as resources in Taipei were stretched due to the mass tragedy." Ms Loy would also benefit as SGH's Burns Centre is the only specialised facility managing major burn injuries in South-east Asia.

Dr Chew managed to get Ms Loy a space on the International SOS flight back. Shortly after 6am on Tuesday morning, she was seen by the SGH team. "I was touched by the selflessness of the doctors, who took their own initiative to get everything done fast," said Mr Loy, 47, a businessman.

"When I asked Dr Chew why she was doing all this, she just said: 'She is one of our own'."

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