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Foxconn explosion death toll rises; iPad 2 output possibly affected by disaster

Foxconn woundedAnother person has died as a result of the explosion that rocked the Foxconn plant in Chengdu, China, on Friday. This brings the total number killed by the catastrophe to three, according to a press release published on All Things D. Fifteen other workers were injured in the accident, six of whom received medical treatment, and were released from the hospital, the company said.

While the “cause of this tragic accident is still being investigated by a joint investigation task force led by government officials and law enforcement authorities,” the Foxconn press release states, initial findings indicate that the accident “was caused by an explosion of combustible dust in a duct.”

“Workers told us that the polishing department windows were shut and there was aluminum dust floating in the air,” said Cheng Yi Yi of the Hong Kong-based Students & Scholars Against Corporate Misbehavior, who spoke with the Los Angeles Times. “The facility wasn’t even completed. There were prime conditions for an accident.”

The world’s largest for-hire manufacturer, Foxconn produces many Apple products, including the iPhone 4 and iPad 2. All production at the Chengdu plant remains suspended due to the explosion and the ongoing investigation into the matter. Because of this, output of up to one third of the total iPad 2 devices schedule for production may be affected, according to sources who spoke with Digitimes.

Foxconn only recently began producing iPad 2 units at the Chengdu plant. Most Apple tablets are produced at another Foxconn facility, in Shenzhen, China. The company planned to ramp up iPad 2 production at its Chengdu plant from 600,000 to 3-4 million by the end of the second quarter of this year. It remains unknown whether this goal is still achievable.

The Foxconn factories have long been a source of tragedy. Earlier this month, the company forced its factory workers to sign a “no suicide” contract after the self-inflicted deaths of 14 employees over the past two years. These suicides were apparently the result of the factories’ deplorable working conditions.