Apple Inc is investigating an explosion that killed two people, injured 16 and forced a production halt at a Foxconn International Holdings Ltd (富士康控股) factory in China said to produce the popular iPad 2.
Foxconn, part of Taiwan’s Hon Hai Precision Industry Co (鴻海精密) and Apple’s main manufacturing partner, said in a statement the explosion occurred at about 7pm local time on Friday.
“Production has been suspended at the site of the explosion until the completion of the investigation,” Foxconn said in a statement. “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.”
It did not name the affected plant or say what it made, but China’s Xinhua news agency said it was the Hongfujin Precision Electronics (鴻富錦) plant in a high-tech industrial zone west of Chengdu, Sichuan Province.
Hon Hai spokesman Edmund Ding (丁祈安) said the company was still evaluating losses. He could not say whether group founder and chairman Terry Gou (郭台銘) had gone to the site.
The explosion could affect the supply of iPads and investors were watching closely. Apple spokesman Steve Dowling said the company was assessing the situation.
“We are deeply saddened by the tragedy at the Foxconn plant in Chengdu and our hearts go out to the victims and their families,” he said. “We are working closely with Foxconn to understand what caused this terrible event.”
Ticonderoga Securities analyst Brian White said the factory makes a lot of iPads because some production had been shifted to the facility from factories in Shenzhen.
Apple’s iPad 2 commands 80 percent of the burgeoning tablet market in which Motorola Inc and Samsung Electronics Co Ltd also compete.
Apple sold 4.69 million iPads last quarter and is scrambling to meet staggering demand for the mobile device, but is heavily backlogged. Executives had expected production to ramp up during the present quarter to meet demand.
The plant explosion is the latest setback for Foxconn, the world’s largest contract manufacturer.
The company made headlines last year after reports emerged about poor working conditions at factories in southern China, which critics say may have helped drive several employees to suicide.
The company pledged to improve employee welfare.