Foxconn Chengdu Plant Has Explosion and Fire, Killing Two

Foxconn Technology Group, maker of Apple Inc. (AAPL)’s iPhone and Dell Inc. (DELL) computers, had an explosion and fire at a plant in southwest China’s Sichuan province yesterday that killed two people and injured 16.

The blast on Foxconn’s Chengdu campus occurred at about 7 p.m. local time, Edmund Ding, a company spokesman, wrote in an e-mail today. The fire department has the incident under control, and the company is cooperating with an investigation and contacting the families of affected workers, he said.

“The company has halted production at the site of the explosion until the investigation is complete,” Ding wrote. Ding said in phone interviews earlier that he couldn’t comment on what products are produced at the plant and that the the company is still assessing the effect on production.

Terry Gou, chairman of Taiwan-based Foxconn, has been shifting production to Chengdu and other interior cities in China such as Wuhan and Chongqing, where labor is about one- third cheaper than in the country’s south. The $2 billion laptop plant where the explosion took place opened in October, Xinhua reported yesterday.

The affected plant makes Apple’s iPad2 tablet computers, the Economic Observer said on its website yesterday, citing unidentified company workers. Gou couldn’t confirm this in a telephone interview today. Gou is flying to Chengdu, the paper said, citing unidentified company employees.

“We are working closely with Foxconn at this point to understand what caused this terrible event,” Steve Dowling, a spokesman for Cupertino, California-based Apple, said in a phone interview today. “We are deeply saddened by the tragedy.”

Dowling declined to comment on any possible supply disruptions, referring questions to Foxconn.

Police in Chengdu said they concluded preliminarily that the explosion, in a polishing workshop, wasn’t intentionally caused, China News Service said. The fire has been extinguished, China Central Television reported after 11 p.m. local time.

To contact the reporters on this story: Tim Culpan in Taipei at tculpan1@bloomberg.net; Joshua Fellman in New York at jfellman@bloomberg.net

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