Two were killed and 16 injured during an explosion in a Foxconn factory in west Chengdu. Three of the 16 were reported to be in critical condition.
Foxconn is the world's largest contract supplier of Apple electronics, including the iPad and iPhone.
The explosion occurred on the iPad2 production line at around 7:10 p.m.—shift-changing time—on Friday. Production has been halted at the site while an investigation into the cause of the explosion gets underway.
The factory, the Hongfujin Precision Electronics plant (鸿富锦精密电子(成都)有限公司), in Pixian's Hongguang Town, is an important production center for the iPad2 and iPhone 4, reported Xinmin. The explosion could cause a several-week halt in production of the electronic items, which are already in short supply due to high consumer demand.
The plant was facing high pressure after a delay in the arrival of components due to the earthquake in Japan two months ago.
A spokesperson for the company said that there were several hundred people in the building at the time of the incident. Factory workers and nearby residents said that they heard a loud boom and felt the ground vibrate. The smoke from the explosion could be detected as far away as 1 km from the site.
One worker reported hearing the explosion and initially mistaking it for a clap of thunder, as thunderstorms had rolled into the area that evening. After evacuating the area with what he recalls as at least 200 other employees, he saw "at least 10" of his fellow plant workers who had been burnt beyond recognition. This worker also said that upstairs area of the plant housed particle filters, which can explode if not well-maintained.
A portion of Foxconn's iPad and iPhone production moved from Shenzhen to Chengdu late last year after Foxconn opened a USD5 billion plant in the Sichuan capital. At the time, it was announced that the production base would employ 100,000 people.
Foxconn came under fire last year after numerous employees at its Shenzhen plant committed suicide, some say due to the harsh working conditions at the site.
Search engine Baidu has created a dedicated feed page to the incident, which is constantly updated with new stories and photos from the Web (in Chinese).
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