At least 519 people were injured after a cloud of flammable powder exploded at a water park in New Taipei City on Saturday night.

Taipei health officials were quoted as saying that 194 persons were critically injured. They were rushed to 37 different hospitals for emergency treatment. Health authorities said that many of the critically injured have sustained burn injuries to their respiratory system because of inhalation of the coloured powder that had ignited.

The Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post quoted a fire department spokesman as saying that coloured powder that was sprayed on stage caught fire at the Formosa Fun Coast water park, “due to the heat of the lights on stage.” The Deputy fire chief Chen Chung-yueh attributed the ignition to the “sparks from machinery or lighting equipment.”

“The explosion occurred when a large volume of unknown coloured powder spewed out into the air at an open stage in the Formosa water park, [which] caught on fire at around 8.30 p.m.,” a police spokesman was quoted as saying.

Video footage on the Internet showed people screaming for help following the ignition of a waft of smoke, which swiftly set the entire stage ablaze. The park was apparently staging a “Colour Play Asia” party, in the presence of around 1,000 spectators.

The Taiwanese website  reported that at least 13 foreign nationals were among those injured.  Taiwan’s premier, Mao Chi-kuo, on Sunday banned the use of colour powder at public events until an investigation about its safety is concluded.

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