Taiwan water park hit by deadly fire can reopen

Appeal against court decision is still possible

The June 27, 2015 water park fire. (By Associated Press)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – The Formosa Fun Coast water park where an explosion of colored dust caused 15 deaths and almost 500 injured in June 2015 can reopen, a court decided Wednesday.

The verdict of the Taipei High Administrative Court can still be appealed. A separate measure by the government’s Tourism Bureau against the park, a fine of NT$50,000 (US$1,600), was partly rejected by the court.

Two small companies rented the water park in New Taipei City’s Bali District on the night in question to organize a colored dust party, but as the powder was sprayed from a stage over the audience in a drained pool, heat from the lighting turned it into a fireball, according to the investigation.

Only the organizer of the party was indicted and sentenced to five years in prison, but the owners of the water park escaped sanction. Victims and relatives demanded a reopening of the case and eight individuals, ranging from the chairman and CEO of the park to the student who launched the powder, were again subjected to an investigation.

However, the conclusion was the same, and the Shilin District Prosecutors Office decided last October not to file any charges.

The Tourism Bureau under the Ministry of Transportation and Communications ordered the park closed and leveled a fine, but park management decided to appeal the measure.

The court ruled Wednesday that the order to close down all of the park was too much, but it did not say whether only other installations could reopen and the place where the disaster took place could be ordered closed or not.

The Tourism Bureau said the fire had led to doubts about the safety of other attractions as well, demanding a complete review of the whole park before it could be allowed to operate again.

The 15 fatalities were mostly young partygoers who died in hospital over a space of several months following the disaster.