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Explosion in iPad factory kills two, injures more

More pain for Foxconn workers

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Updated An explosion at the Chinese factory that manufactures Apple's iPad, among other devices, has reportedly killed two three* and injured 16, three seriously.

The explosion at the Foxconn plant near Chengdu in southwest China occured around 7pm local time, according to a report by The Wall Street Journal. Foxconn told the WSJ that the "cause of the explosion is being investigated by local police." The local government, however, has ruled out foul play.

Raw video of the aftermath of the explosion, first published by the Chinese tech site M.I.C. Gadget, was quickly put up on YouTube:

Foxconn has been under scrutiny in recent years due to worker protests, suicides, poisonings, and allegations of worker abuse.

Apple's stock slipped on the news of the explosion, despite news earlier in the day that iPad 2 availablity was "significantly improved" over the level of constraints that Apple COO Tim Cook complained about when announcing his company's most-recent financial report.

Of course, it's obscene to look at the Foxconn explosion merely through the lens of how it affects Apple's profits – not when two workers are dead, and others are seriously injured. ®

Update 1

The China Financial Daily reports that the explosion at the Foxconn plane was caused by "super-light dust", presumably akin to that which causes grain silo and some coal mine explosions.

At about 19:20 Beijing Time, Chengdu Hi-tech Industrial Park West Foxconn Building A5 production building exploded, 2, 3, 4 layers are affected, the wall shattered. The explosion is caused by a super-light dust explosion. The building is the production lines for ipad2 series. When the explosion occurred, hundreds of people inside the building carried out the production operations, Foxconn now has entered the state of emergency rescue. Casualties of the accident is unknown.

It goes without saying that if the explosion were indeed caused by such a dust accumulation and ignition, the ventilation practices in the iPad 2 production line at the Foxconn plant near Chengdu are – at minimum – highly suspect.

* Update 2

Reuters reported on Sunday that Foxconn had confirmed a third death from the explosion. Foxconn also said that work had been suspended at the "polishing workshop" reportedly part of iPad 2 production at the Chengdu factory, and at workshops doing similar work.

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