What Caused the Foxconn Explosion?

Senior Contributor

More details are emerging about the Foxconn explosion Monday that claimed three lives, previously reported as two, and injured fifteen people. What happened, will it happen again, and who has the most heartless headlines about this tragedy?

Foxconn, of course, makes consumer electronics. Its most notable client is Apple, for whom it builds iPods, iPhones, and iPads, but it also works for Nokia, Dell, HP, and others. If you own a current-gen device, odds are pretty good Foxconn built it.

What caused the blast? The investigation is currently still ongoing, but it’s beginning to look like the blast was caused by aluminum dust collecting in air vents near a polishing area. To say this is a massive safety hazard is the understatement of the year: aluminum dust is highly reactive and incredibly explosive, and aluminum fires are very, very dangerous. In fact, OSHA guidelines recommend fighting aluminum fires as far upwind as possible, and not to use water, halon, or carbon tetrachloride. In short, aluminum fires and explosions are two things Foxconn should have been amply prepared against.

To prevent more explosions, Foxconn has shut down all of its polishing workshops in China and are inspecting them, only reopening them when they pass a full inspection; this is expected to take about two days. Needless to say, this is going to affect their product lines, but it’s worth it for the sake of, you know, human decency. Unless, apparently, you cover tech news for the Internet! Let’s play everybody’s favorite game, What’s The Most Heartless Headline! Remember, three people died. In an explosion. That’s a pretty horrible way to die. So, who puts that first, and who talks about iPads instead?


  • CIO gets marks for not only not mentioning iPads in its headline, but not discussing it until the very end of their FAQ. It’s a little depressing that a magazine meant for executives is the winner. Aren’t they supposed to be soulless? That’s part of the job description: “CIO Wanted: Must be Soulless”. (CIO)
  • Digital Trends comes close, but not quite, mentioning only the “tech supply chain” and focusing on the overall world effect on good supply for a few paragraphs in the middle. So, at least they didn’t run it in the lead. (Digital Trends)
  • The big loser? CNET. They not only wrote a story about iPad shortages that didn’t even mention the deaths even in passing, they made it an editor’s pick, to be featured on the front of the site. With two other links underneath it, both about the iPad. Yeah, that’s…that’s just great, guys. (CNET)



  • Meanwhile, the “e-G8” summit, which consists of hundreds of Internet movers and shakers coming together to listen to clueless government officials lecture them about how they really do understand the Internet and the Internet is very important to their economies and stuff, today had to tolerate a speech from Nicolas Sarkozy, who proceeded to demonstrate he had zero understanding of the Internet by insisting government should regulate it out the wazoo because the children. We’re simplifying the speech considerably, but it was essentially Sarkozy justifying the policy recently passed in France that cuts off Internet access for people who download illegal material. Of course, Sarkozy also has a lower approval rating than AIDS in France, so what he thinks isn’t going to matter for much longer. (Yahoo!)
  • Meanwhile, in news that will excite Twitter watchers and people who use Tweetdeck, not to mention…er…OK, not many people beyond that, Twitter has bought out Tweetdeck for $40 million. Silicon Valley noticed this because it was way, way below the rumored price of $50 million, and there was supposed to be this big bidding war for Tweetdeck. Expect a bunch of editorials about how Tweetdeck being sold for “only” $40 million means “the end of Twitter” on a bunch of tech sites by this time tomorrow. (CNET)



  • There were more than 200 dust explosions in the United States alone in 2008. Dust explosions are actually so common that they have their own blog. No, really, it’s this one right here (dustexplosions.blogspot.com)
  • Also, deaths by explosion have been rising steadily since the 1980s, and nobody’s really sure why. Although the fact that there’s actually a code on death certificates for “killed by fireworks” might be a hint. (AR Fire Prevention)


Around The Web