News / Asia

GM Seeks Alternative Supplies in China After Deadly Factory Blast

Medical personnel transport a victim of a factory explosion at a hospital in Kunshan, Jiangsu province, August 2, 2014.
Medical personnel transport a victim of a factory explosion at a hospital in Kunshan, Jiangsu province, August 2, 2014.

General Motors said on Sunday that it had asked its main Chinese supplier to find an alternative source of components after an explosion ripped through a factory a day earlier, killing at least 69 people.

The accident at the Zhongrong Metal Products Co. Ltd. plant in Kunshan city, about 1,000 kilometers (600 miles) southeast of Beijing, in the eastern province of Jiangsu.

It is China's worst industrial accident in a year, since a fire at a poultry plant killed 119 people in June last year.

Aside from the fatalities, some 200 people were injured in the blast, state-run Xinhua news agency reported on Sunday, raising its casualty estimate from overnight.

Dangerous dust levels

Chinese investigators faulted poor safety measures for the explosion at the  auto parts factory, with news reports Sunday revealing that workers had long complained of dangerous levels of dust and inadequate cleaning practices at the facility, The Associated Press reported.

City officials said metal dust produced from polishing steel hubcaps ignited Saturday morning, causing an explosion that destroyed almost the entire roof of the plant, according to the AP. More than 200 workers were at the factory at the time of the blast.
The metallic dust stuck to the skin of workers, burning between 50 and 90 percent of their bodies, Liu Wei, deputy chief of the health bureau in the city, told the AP.

According to Zhongrong's website, the factory made wheels that are supplied to GM and many other carmakers.

Distancing itself from Zhongrong, the Detroit automaker issued a statement saying it bought components from a company called "Dicastal" - which Zhongrong works with.

GM went on to say it had no direct dealings with Zhongrong, which it described as a "Tier-2" supplier.

Tier-1 component suppliers such as Dicastal are "required to source from Tier-2 suppliers who must meet both in-country environment and safety standards as well as quality standards," GM said.

The U.S. automaker noted that Saturday's accident did not cause any immediate impact on its production because it has "sufficient inventory" of the parts, without specifying what the components were.

"We are working with our supplier to establish alternate processing capability," the statement said.

GM statement

The GM statement said it was "too early to determine the cause of the explosion" as an official investigation was underway.

"We will closely monitor the investigation and, if asked, will provide any resources and information that can assist in this matter," GM said.

The blast was reported to have taken place in a workshop that polishes wheel hubs. A preliminary investigation suggested it was triggered when a flame was lit in a dust-filled room, the local government said on Saturday, describing the incident as a serious safety breach.

Xinhua reported that police took at least two company representatives into custody.

GM described Dicastal as one of its "global suppliers," but did not provide any further information on the company.

Asked if that Dicastal was Citic Dicastal Wheel Manufacturing Co., Ltd., a producer of aluminum alloy wheels headquartered in the eastern province of Hebei and a unit of Beijing-based Citic Group, a GM spokeswoman in Shanghai said she did not have any information.

She also said she had no information on whether GM conducts safety inspections of production facilities run by lower-tier suppliers with which they do not do business with directly.

Some information for this report provided by AP.

You May Like

Video Getting to Zero AIDS Infections

More than 35 million people around the world are infected with HIV, a disease that is both preventable and treatable

Children, Childhoods Lost in European Refugee Crisis

According to UNICEF, 190,000 children applied for political asylum in Europe in the first 9 months of this year - twice as many as last year

What Happened When I Landed in Antarctica

Refael Klein chronicles what it's like to visit one of the coldest, most desolate places on Earth

This forum has been closed.
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
With HIV, Can We Get to Zero?i
Carol Pearson
November 29, 2015 1:23 PM
The theme of this year's World AIDS Day is "Getting to Zero." The U.N. says new HIV infections have been reduced by 35 percent since 2000 and AIDS-related deaths are down by 42 percent since the peak in 2004. VOA's Carol Pearson takes a look at what it might take to actually have an AIDS-free generation.

Video With HIV, Can We Get to Zero?

The theme of this year's World AIDS Day is "Getting to Zero." The U.N. says new HIV infections have been reduced by 35 percent since 2000 and AIDS-related deaths are down by 42 percent since the peak in 2004. VOA's Carol Pearson takes a look at what it might take to actually have an AIDS-free generation.

Video Political Motives Seen Behind Cancelled Cambodian Water Festival

For the fourth time in the five years since more than 350 people were killed in a stampede at Cambodia’s annual water festival, authorities canceled the event this year. Officials blamed environmental reasons as the cause, but many see it as fallout from rising political tensions with a fresh wave of ruling party intimidation against the opposition. David Boyle and Kimlong Meng report from Phnom Penh.

Video African Circus Gives At-Risk Youth a 2nd Chance

Ethiopia hosted the first African Circus Arts Festival this past weekend with performers from seven different African countries. Most of the performers are youngsters coming form challenging backgrounds who say the circus gave them a second chance.

Video US Lawmakers Brace for End-of-Year Battles

U.S. lawmakers are returning to Washington for Congress’ final working weeks of the year. And, as VOA's Michael Bowman reports, a full slate of legislative business awaits them, from keeping the federal government open to resolving a battle with the White House over the admittance of Syrian refugees.

Video Taiwan Looks for Role in South China Sea Dispute

The Taiwanese government is one of several that claims territory in the hotly contested South China Sea, but Taipei has long been sidelined in the dispute, overshadowed by China. Now, as the Philippines challenges Beijing’s claims in an international court at The Hague, Taipei is looking to publicly assert its claims. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.

Video After Terrorist Attacks, Support for Refugees Fades

The terrorists who killed and injured almost 500 people around Paris this month are mostly French or Belgian nationals. But at least two apparently took advantage of Europe’s migrant crisis to sneak into the region. The discovery has hardened views about legitimate refugees, including those fleeing the same extremist violence that hit the French capital. Lisa Bryant has this report for VOA from the Paris suburb of Cergy-Pontoise

Video Syrian Refugees in US Express Concern for Those Left Behind

Syrian immigrants in the United States are concerned about the negative tide of public opinion and the politicians who want to block a U.S. plan to accept 10,000 Syrian refugees. Zlatica Hoke reports many Americans are fighting to dispel suspicions linking refugees to terrorists.

Video Thais Send Security Concerns Down the River

As Thailand takes in the annual Loy Krathong festival, many ponder the country’s future and security. Steve Sandford reports from Chiang Mai.

Video Islamic State Unfazed by Losses in Iraq, Syria

Progress in the U.S.-led effort to beat Islamic State on its home turf in Iraq and Syria has led some to speculate the terror group may be growing desperate. But counterterror officials say that is not the case, and warn the recent spate of terror attacks is merely part of the group’s evolution. VOA National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more.

Video Belgium-Germany Border Remains Porous, Even As Manhunt For Paris Attacker Continues

One of the suspected gunmen in the Nov. 13 Paris attacks, Salah Abdeslam, evaded law enforcement, made his way to Belgium, and is now believed to have fled to Germany. VOA correspondent Ayesha Tanzeem makes the journey across the border from Belgium into Germany to see how porous the borders really are.

Video US, Cambodian Navies Pair Up in Gulf of Thailand

The U.S. Navy has deployed one of its newest and most advanced ships to Cambodia to conduct joint training drills in the Gulf of Thailand. Riding hull-to-hull with Cambodian ships, the seamen of the USS Fort Worth are executing joint-training drills that will help build relations in Southeast Asia. David Boyle reports for VOA from Preah Sihanouk province.

Video Uncertain Future for Syrian Refugee Resettlement in Illinois

For the trickle of Syrian refugees finding new homes in the Midwest city of Chicago, the call to end resettlement in many U.S. states is adding another dimension to their long journey fleeing war. Organizations working to help them integrate say the backlash since the Paris attacks is both harming and helping their efforts to provide refugees sanctuary. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

VOA Blogs