Two die in explosion at Foxconn iPad plant

Production is halted while police investigate blast at iPad "polishing plant" that leaves two dead and more than a dozen injured.

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Eric Mack
2 min read
Chinese TV video shows smoke and confusion outside the factory site.

An explosion at a Foxconn factory near Chengdu, China, has killed at least two people and injured 16, according to a statement sent from the company, which reportedly manufactures Apple iPads at the site.

The Wall Street Journal reports that the explosion occurred Friday night near the southwestern China facility, halting production.

In a statement initially sent to Gizmodo, Foxconn says the situation is now under control and the production hold will continue while police investigate.

Here's the full statement, which Foxconn sent to CNET this afternoon:

We can confirm that at approximately 7 p.m. 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.

Apple did not immediately return CNET's request for comment, but it did provide the following statement to AllThingsD. "We are deeply saddened by the tragedy at Foxconn's plant in Chengdu, and our hearts go out to the victims and their families. We are working closely with Foxconn to understand what caused this terrible event."

Local government officials referred to the factory as Foxconn's "polishing plant" and little solid information is known about the cause of the explosion--one English-language Chinese news site described it as "caused by a super-light dust explosion," and rumors circulating around Chengdu and through the media also allude to lightning strikes and problems with the ventilation system in the building.

Chinese TV shows clouds of dark smoke emanating from the building; the BBC reports that security guards told evacuees from the factory that the smoke coming from the facility was toxic.

Early reports after the explosion warned that the building's walls had been shattered and its collapse may be imminent, but it doesn't appear that has happened. Details on this story are still emerging and sketchy at best, but the explosion and two deaths appear matters of fact.

Foxconn is the same manufacturer that has come under fire in the past for working conditions believed to have led to a rash of worker suicides.

Foxconn did not immediately respond to a request for confirmation and more details on the explosion.

Updated at 2:34 p.m. PT with comment to AllThingsD from Apple and again at 5:17 p.m. PT with Foxconn's full statement.