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Apple supplier Pegatron hit by China plant blast

Source:Reuters     Date:2011-12-20
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By Clare Jim and Argin Chang

TAIPEI, Dec 19 (Reuters) -- Apple Inc supplier Pegatron Corp reported an explosion at a subsidiary's plant in Shanghai over the weekend that it said had injured 61 workers, the latest in a series of incidents that have spotlighted safety concerns at factories in China.

Pegatron Chief Financial Officer Charles Lin told Reuters on Monday that the explosion at the plant, which belongs to Riteng Computer Accessory Co and is located in Shanghai's Songjiang industrial park, had not caused a fire, but 23 of the injured workers needed to be hospitalised.

"The factory has not started operations yet. Part of the facility is still under pre-operation inspection and part is running trial production," Lin said.

Apple said it was investigating.

"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," said spokeswoman Carolyn Wu.

The accident brings the spotlight back onto safety concerns over factories in China that make most of the world's computers and other electronic devices, and over Apple's supply chain, which has come under criticism from the Chinese government, and labour and environmental groups.

Hon Hai Precision Industry Co Ltd, Apple's top manufacturing partner, has had two incidents at China plants this year.

In May, an explosion at its electronics polishing facility in the western city of Chengdu killed three and injured 15. . In September, electrical cables on a building rooftop at a plant in the eastern Shandong province caught fire but caused no casualties.

The company also had a rash of suicides at its plants last year, blamed by labour groups on overwork and poor conditions.

Chinese state broadcaster CCTV aired a programme on Oct 16 in which its reporters visited suppliers that Chinese environmental groups had said in August were thought to be doing business with Apple and had lax environmental standards.

The August report, by a coalition of Chinese environmental organisations including Friends of Nature and the Institute of Public & Environmental Affairs, said 27 companies thought to be Apple suppliers had severe pollution problems, from toxic gases to heavy metal sludge.

Taiwan's Catcher Technology Co Ltd, a casing supplier for Apple, was ordered in October to close a plant because of complaints about pollution.

But the companies are not the only ones to blame.

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