On 2 August, an explosion in a Taiwanese-owned enterprise metal products factory in Kunshan, Jiangsu province, left at least 75 people dead and 185 others injured. The Zhongrong Metal Products Company （中荣金属制品有限公司) plant’s core business is electroplating aluminum alloy wheel hubs for clients including US carmakers like General Motors, among others, according to its website.
The news spread quickly on social media, with gory mobile phone photos of burn victims attracting much attention.
Supervisors at the factory are being questioned and authorities have described the blast as a serious security incident caused by criminal negligence by the plant’s management, Xinhua reported. Kunshan, a city not far from Shanghai and about 1,000 kilometers (600 miles) southeast of Beijing, homes to a number of factories that make automotive components.
The case is the latest in a string of accidents that have raised questions about the enforcement of safety standards at the hundreds of thousands of factories that fuel China’s vital export sector. In January, 16 people died in nearby Zhejiang Province when a fire ripped through a shoe factory. Last year, a blaze at a poultry slaughterhouse in northeastern Jilin Province killed 120 workers — blocked exits contributed to the high death toll. In 2011, an explosion at a plant in Chengdu making iPads for Apple killed three workers and injured 15; aluminum dust that had collected in ventilation ducts was blamed as the cause.
Industrial accidents claim about 70,000 lives in China annually, according to the statistics quoted in state media reports.