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Apple supplier factory blast injures dozens, may hurt iPad supply

December 20, 2011 | 12:16 pm

A factory explosion at an Apple supplier in China has left dozens injured and sparked concerns about whether iPad supply would be affected

A factory explosion at an Apple supplier in China has left dozens injured and sparked concerns about whether iPad supply would be affected.

The blast took place over the weekend at a Riteng Computer Accessory Co. factory, owned by Apple supplier Pegatron, in Shanghai's Songjiang district, according to a report from the Associated Press.

The Chinese government is investigating the cause of the explosion and has ordered safety checks at the plant, the AP said.

Chinese media reported that 61 people were hurt in the explosion and that more than 20 had to be hospitalized, though none of the injuries were considered life-threatening, the AP said.

Apple officials were unavailable for comment on the explosion Tuesday, but company spokeswoman Carolyn Wu told the AP that "our hearts go out to the people who were hurt in Songjiang. We are working closely with Pegatron to understand the cause of this accident."

Pegatron told the AP in a statement that the blast was the result of "dust collection equipment."

Forbes magazine reported Tuesday that the explosion could produce shortages of Apple's big-selling iPad 2 tablet, noting that the Japanese earthquake and tsunami earlier this year and an explosion at Apple supplier Foxconn last year also resulted in difficulties for iPad production.

Apple has faced criticism in the past for troubles at its suppliers' factories. Foxconn, which also supplies products for many other top consumer electronics companies, has also recently dealt with employee suicides, prompting Apple's then-COO (and current CEO) Tim Cook to visit Chinese factories in person over workplace concerns.

The iPad, like many other Apple products, makes use of aluminum and, as the AP noted it its report, aluminum dust is "highly combustible."

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-- Nathan Olivarez-Giles
Nathan Olivarez-Giles on Google+
Twitter.com/nateog

Photo: The Apple iPad 2. Credit: Nathan Olivarez-Giles / Los Angeles Times

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