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Deadly Taiwan fireball caused by stage lights: report

Rescue workers tend to injured people at the Formosa Fun Coast amusement park after an explosion in the Pali district of New Taipei City on June 27, 2015.

[TAIPEI] A deadly fireball that ripped through a crowd of young people at a Taiwan water park in June was caused when coloured powder was ignited by stage lights, an investigation reportedly showed Friday.

The cornstarch powder had been sprayed over the crowd of hundreds of partygoers at the Formosa Fun Coast water park.

It exploded when it came into contact with the lights, whose surface temperatures reached more than 400 degrees Celsius, the Liberty Times reported, citing a fire department investigation.

Eleven people were killed and hundreds were hospitalised, some with third-degree burns covering more than 90 percent of their bodies.

The report has been submitted to prosecutors, but officials declined to comment on its content.

"We will use this report as a reference," Shihlin district prosecutors' office spokeswoman Su Pei-yu told AFP. "We can't reveal details at the moment as the investigation is still underway." The event, which drew around 1,000 people - mostly between 18 and 25 years old - turned into a nightmare when the inferno ripped through the crowd. Horrific video footage showed people running for their lives and screaming as they tried to escape.

Two months on, 42 of the victims are still in critical condition, according to the Ministry of Health and Welfare.

The report by the fire department ruled out earlier speculation that the blaze was caused by a cigarette.

Three suspects have been released on bail as prosecutors investigate them on charges of offences against public safety and negligence causing deaths.

Six more are being investigated, prosecutors said, including both the chairman and the president of the water park.