Taiwan water park fire: Party organiser jailed for negligence

Victims of the explosion receive care after the explosion at the water park outside Taipei, Taiwan (28 June 2015) Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Most of the victims were young people who had been attending the party at the water park

The organiser of water park party in Taiwan, where a fireball caused by igniting paint powder killed 15 people, has been found guilty of negligence.

Most of the victims of the 27 June disaster were young people, some of whom suffered burns to 40% of their bodies.

Lu Chung-chi, the owner of Colour Play Asia, was jailed for four years and 10 months.

Taiwanese media said Lu could appeal against the conviction.

More than 500 people were also injured at Formosa Water Park outside Taipei when the coloured powder, which was being sprayed over the crowd, caught fire.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The speed and intensity of the explosion meant people had little chance to escape

Video footage from the day showed people dancing in front of a stage and cheering as clouds of green and yellow powder covered them. The powder abruptly burst into flames, engulfing partygoers in an inferno with no way of escaping.

Investigators found the corn starch powder had come into contact with intensely hot stage lighting, setting it on fire.

Judge Kuo Hui-ling at Shihlin district court said Lu had failed to take the proper precautions to prevent this and had not ensured technicians spraying the powder were sufficiently trained.

Analysis from the BBC's Cindy Sui in Taipei

Many of the partygoers were only in their teens and 20s.

The families of the victims and many Taiwanese people believe the sentence is too light, but prosecutors say under Taiwan's law, the maximum sentence for workplace negligence leading to death is only five years.

This was one of a string of accidents caused by human negligence in the past two years, which has raised questions about the poor adherence to safety on the island.

Many believe Taiwan's pro-business laws must be toughened and its lax attitude toward safety must be changed.

The court released a statement after the verdict paying tribute to the victims, saying many of their "wonderful lives were about to start".

"Because of the explosion, 15 of them lost their lives and most of the survivors suffer tremendous physical and emotional pain and torment," AFP quoted the statement as saying.

One woman who said her son had suffered 55% burns was among those saying the sentence was too short.

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