UPDATED – What appears to be a fire or explosion engulfed one of the buildings at the Foxconn Factory in Chengdu, China. Foxconn is reporting two casualties and 16 hurt and the damage does look severe and quite thorough. MICGadget reported that “10 fire engines, ambulances and 10 police cars” arrived on the scene. Reports state that a few floors in Building A5 (apparently part of the iPad 2 production line) were affected and that the explosion was caused by light dust igniting in one of the manufacturing rooms.
What could have happened? Well, as we learned from the Mythbusters, any aerated, flammable substance can potentially explode given the right mix of heat and propellant. The resulting explosions, especially in a factory that is probably producing clouds of aluminium and plastic dust on a daily basis, could be quite dangerous.
As of 21:00 Chengdu time, six men and one woman were sent to the Sichuan Provincial People’s Hospital. There were two fatalities and injuries to 16 others.
Foxconn released an official statement on the accident:
We can confirm that at approximately 7 pm on May 20, there was an explosion at our Chengdu campus. At this point, we can also confirm that there were two fatalities with injuries to 16 other employees. We are working with medical officials to provide treatment to the injured employees and we are working with government and law enforcement officials to contact the families of all employees affected by this tragedy.
The situation has been brought under control by the fire department and the cause of this explosion is being investigated by local police officials. Foxconn is cooperating fully with that investigation.
Production has been suspended at the site of the explosion until the completion of the investigation. The safety of our employees is our highest priority and we will do whatever is required to determine and address the cause of this tragic accident.