This morning, an explosion at Apple vendor Foxconn’s Chengdu factory rocked the area, killing two people and injuring 16. What caused the accident isn’t known yet, but according to Chinese investigators, it so far doesn’t look like human error.
The explosion occurred in the A05 building, which houses the iPad 2 production line. Chinese TV crews filmed the action at the smoke-filled scene, where nearly two dozen emergency vehicles converged to provide assistance and shuttle victims to Sichuan Provincial People’s Hospital.
As hearts go out to the afflicted from some onlookers, others reacted with a bottom-line mentality. Some sites are already pondering what today’s incident will do to the iPad 2 supply chain. Thanks to high demand and zero stock, tablets were shipping direct from the factory. Wait times, once 5 to 6 weeks just a month or so ago, had dropped to 1 to 2 weeks, but with production abruptly halted now, fulfillment is certain to be pushed back again. Then there’s the black market. With a short supply about to get even more limited, iPad 2s will likely experience a surge in street value.
At this point, it’s too early for anyone to know how much damage was sustained or when production can resume. And in fact, it might be too early to talk about the business side of this at all. While the above assessments might be true, I find it a little hard to absorb all that while workers’ families are still being sought out and informed of the situation.