By Matthew Strong
TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – The organizer of last June’s color powder party which led to the deaths of 12 people and injured 500 apologized to the public Tuesday.
The apology came after Lu Chung-chi became the only person last week to be indicted over the June 27 disaster at the Formosa Fun Coast water park in Bali District, New Taipei City. The fact that eight others, including owners and managers of the park, escaped without charges caused widespread consternation. Families of the victims want prosecutors to reconsider.
Lu came out for a news conference with his attorney Tuesday where he offered a statement containing four apologies. He said he had to apologize first to the party goers and their families, and second to the rescue workers, doctors and nurses who treated the victims.
Lu also apologized to Taiwan society as a whole for what he described as the concentration of resources needed to fight the disaster. The fourth apology was coming out to tell the truth at the news conference, he said.
The Shihlin District Prosecutors Office charged him with negligence causing death and injuries on October 16, but the New Taipei City Government said it would assist victims’ families in requesting prosecutors reconsider their lack of charges against the eight other suspects in the case.
The prosecutors reasoned that according to the relevant contracts, only Lu and his company were responsible for safety at the color powder event, which took place outside the regular opening hours of the water park.
The official reason for the disaster was that an overheated computer light caused the highly flammable cornstarch powder to explode over the heads of the crowds, but Lu has claimed the source of the fire was to be found among the public.
At his news conference Tuesday, the businessman said that his relationship with Formosa Fun Coast was one of two parties both profiting from the same event, and not just one between a landlord and a person renting a place.
Lu said the disaster happened when a friend of his who had come to help out with the event ordered a student worker to shoot color powder for a second time. Earlier, he had supervised a first shooting of powder, which should have been enough, he said.
Lu rejected the friend’s claim that he had only done so on his orders. Lu said he had left the scene and was not present when the disaster happened, and had not contacted the friend in the meantime. It was only when somebody phoned him to say the stage was on fire that he returned to the water park, Lu said.