A devastating fire engulfed a golf ball factory in southern Taiwan, claiming the lives of nine individuals, including four brave firefighters. The incident occurred over the weekend and was reported by officials on Monday.
The inferno, which ignited on Friday and raged throughout the night into Saturday, left over 100 individuals injured, most of them factory workers. Tragically, one person remains missing, as reported.
Initially, authorities had stated that five people had lost their lives in the fire. However, a county official disclosed that further examinations are required to confirm the identities of body fragments discovered at the scene.
An additional county official revealed that an explosion occurred following the fire in one of the factory buildings around 6:10 pm. This explosion led to a section of the building collapsing, resulting in the tragic deaths of both firefighters and workers.
The cause of the fire remains shrouded in mystery. A fire department official informed local media on Saturday that the presence of chemical peroxide within the factory premises might have triggered a series of explosions, including one significant blast and several smaller ones.
In response to the heartbreaking incident, President Tsai Ing-wen visited the site of the tragedy on Saturday, accompanied by other high-ranking officials. They expressed their heartfelt condolences to the families of the victims and pledged a thorough investigation into the incident’s root causes.
Taiwan holds a significant position in the golf ball manufacturing industry, with its factories supplying renowned brands such as Callaway, TaylorMade, Bridgestone, Mizuno, and Wilson, as indicated in the 2021 annual report.
The factory that was consumed by flames belonged to Launch Technologies, a prominent global supplier of golf balls. According to reports, Launch Technologies, a company listed on the Taipei Exchange, exported approximately 260 million golf balls last year, accounting for about one-fifth of the total sold globally. The United States constituted more than 80% of the company’s sales.
Responding to the tragedy, Taiwan’s Ministry of Labor announced on Saturday its intention to launch an occupational safety investigation into Launch Technologies and its parent company. This decision came after citing previous fines imposed for inspection violations within an export processing zone.
As Taiwan and the world mourn the loss of lives in this devastating fire, the investigation into its cause and the subsequent steps towards preventing such tragedies in the future take on paramount importance.