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American burned in Taiwan inferno fights for life, dad says

TAIPEI, Taiwan - The father of an American who was badly burned in a sudden inferno at a Taiwan water park said Wednesday that the family was anxious about how the young man would fare in the next few days.

Roger Haas of Mont Vernon, New Hampshire, said his son Alex Haas, 26, is fighting for his life after 90 percent of his body and his lungs were burned.

He said the family faults the park management for the fire last Saturday that killed one person and burned hundreds more.

"We are in no way holding the country of Taiwan responsible for any of this at all," the father said. "However, there is a responsibility here, and it is with the water park and people that did not take the time to consider the situation of spraying the powder onto the public."

Investigators are looking into the possibility that some spark might have triggered the explosion of colored corn powder that was thrown into a crowd from a stage at the Formosa Water Park in New Taipei City. Investigators also have found the density of the powder was high near the stage.

Taiwan has since banned use of flammable powders at all public activities.

The elder Haas, his wife and their two children arrived in Taipei on Tuesday.

"If he can pass through these next few days and get his heart health and his breathing (better), .... If he can go beyond that, then there is a good chance he can go through months and months of rehabilitation and surgery, which we would welcome at this point."

He said his son moved to Taiwan to teach English a year ago and that the young man is fascinated by Asian culture.

The fire was sparked suddenly after the powder fired from a stage in front of about 1,000 people. A total of 519 people were injured by the fire at the water park. Television cameras captured horrifying scenes of hundreds of people running through flames.

taiwan water park inferno
Silhouettesof people running from a blaze are seen at the Formosa Fun Coast water park, onthe outskirts of the capital, Taipei in this still image taken from video shoton June 27, 2015 and provided by Apple Daily Taiwan. REUTERS/Ms. Huang/Apple Daily Taiwan

The event manager and several park employees were detained and questioned after the incident, the BBC reports. There are also reports of at least one person arrested for looting among the victims.

Taiwan News reports the the company owner in charge of the show, Lu Chung-ji, offered a public apology following the incident, and said he takes responsibility.

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