Hundreds still in hospital after fire at Taiwan music party

More than 400 people, many of them seriously burned, remained in hospitals Sunday after a fire spread into a crowd of spectators at a music party at a Taiwan water park, authorities said.

The fire late Saturday was sparked by an accidental explosion of a coloured theatrical powder thrown from the stage in front of about 1,000 people, the local fire agency and media said. 

The powder for the one-time event called "Color Play Asia" ignited along the ground, mainly burning people's lower bodies, said Wang Wei-sheng, a liaison with the New Taipei City fire department command center.

The exact cause of the fire was still being investigated, but Taiwan Premier Mao Chih-kuo banned public activities that use the colored powder.

A total of 519 people were injured by the fire at the Formosa Water Park in New Taipei City, according to a statement from the city government's health bureau.

It said that 419 remained hospitalized on Sunday afternoon, about half of whom were seriously injured, including 184 in intensive care. 

Apart from Taiwanese, the victims were four people from Hong Kong, two from the Chinese mainland and one each from Macau, Japan, Malaysia and Singapore. The nationalities of three other foreigners were not given.

President Ma Ying-jeou visited burns victims at a hospital in Taipei on Sunday afternoon and said authorities would do their best to ensure victims receive "the best medical care" and find out who was responsible for the "tragic incident."

Taiwan's Central News Agency said that police were questioning two park workers who had launched the powder as well as the party's on-site organizer and two technicians. 

They may face charges of professional negligence causing serious injuries and endangering the public, it said.