Taiwan water park inferno claims another life

  • 17/07/2015

By Benjamin Yeh and Michelle Yun

Almost three weeks after a fireball engulfed hundreds of young partygoers in Taiwan, the death toll is rising, as parents keep vigil at their children's bedsides, willing those who survived to stay alive.

"She almost lost her heartbeat," said Michael Chu, father of 18-year-old student Julie, who suffered burns to more than 70 percent of her body when the inferno scorched through the crowd at a water park on June 28.

About 1000 revellers had gathered for a "colour party" at the Formosa Fun Coast water park, which turned into a nightmare when plumes of decorative corn starch being sprayed on the crowd ignited.

Horrific amateur footage showed crowds running for their lives, screaming as they were overtaken by flames.

She is often unconscious because of the anaesthetics, and faces up to five more rounds of surgery to remove damaged skin, Chu said.

Every time the doctors operated, there was a life-threatening risk of infection, he said.

And survival brings its own fears for her anguished parents.

"Her life is ruined. She can't go to school now and won't be able to have a career. She won't be able to get married," her father said.

"She has to face the rest of her life like this, to deal with it on her own when we're no longer around," he said.

Seven have died so far, and there are fears the number will rise in what medics say is an unprecedented disaster for Taiwan, given the scale and severity of the injuries.

The first victim lived for two days with 90 percent burns before dying. Since then six more have succumbed to their injuries, the latest dying on Thursday.