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

US, China Have Dueling Definitions of Cybersecurity

Analysts say attribution or or proving that a particular individual or government is responsible for a hack, is a daunting task More

Snowden: I'd Go to Prison to Return to US

Former NSA contractor says he has not received a formal plea-deal offer from US officials, who consider him to be a traitor More

Goodbye Pocahontas: Photos Reveal Today's Real Native Americans

Weary of stereotypes, photographer Matika Wilbur is determined to reshape the public's perception of her people More

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.
Russia’s Syria Involvement Raising Concerns in Europei
Luis Ramirez
October 02, 2015 4:45 PM
European nations are joining the United States in demanding that Russia stop targeting opposition groups other than the Islamic State militants as Russian warplanes continue to conduct raids in Syria. The demand came in a statement from Britain, France, Germany, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United States Friday. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Video Russia’s Syria Involvement Raising Concerns in Europe

European nations are joining the United States in demanding that Russia stop targeting opposition groups other than the Islamic State militants as Russian warplanes continue to conduct raids in Syria. The demand came in a statement from Britain, France, Germany, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United States Friday. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Video First Self-Driving Truck Debuts on European Highways

The first automated semi-trailer truck started its maiden voyage Friday, Oct. 2, on a European highway. The Daimler truck called 'Actros' is the first potentially mass-produced truck whose driver will be required only to monitor the situation, similar to the role of an airline captain while the plane is in autopilot mode. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video Nano-tech Filter Cleans Dirty Water

Access to clean water is a problem for hundreds of millions of people around the world. Now, a scientist and chemical engineer in Tanzania (in East Africa) is working to change that by creating an innovative water filter that makes dirty water safe. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.

Video Demand Rising for Organic Produce in Cambodia

In Cambodia, where rice has long been the main cash crop, farmers are being encouraged to turn to vegetables to satisfy the growing demand for locally produced organic farm products. Daniel de Carteret has more from Phnom Penh.

Video Migrant Influx Costs Europe, But Economy Could Benefit

The influx of hundreds of thousands of refugees and migrants is testing Europe’s ability to respond – especially in the poorer Balkan states. But some analysts argue that Europe will benefit by welcoming the huge numbers of young people – many of them well educated and willing to work. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

Video Botanists Grow Furniture, with Pruning Shears

For something a bit out of the ordinary to furnish your home, why not consider wooden chairs, crafted by nature, with a little help from some British botanists with an eye for design. VOA’s Jessica Berman reports.

Video New Fabric Helps Fight Dust-Related Allergies

Many people around the world suffer from dust-related allergies, caused mainly by tiny mites that live in bed linen. Polish scientists report they have successfully tested a fabric that is impenetrable to the microscopic creatures. VOA’s George Putic has more.

Video Burkina Faso's Economy Deeply Affected by Political Turmoil

Political turmoil in Burkina Faso over the past year has taken a toll on the economy. The transitional government is reporting nearly $70 million in losses in the ten days that followed a short-lived coup by members of the presidential guard earlier this month. The crisis shut businesses and workers went on strike. With elections on the horizon, Emilie Iob reports on what a return to political stability can do for the country's economic recovery.

Video Fleeing Violence, Some Syrians Find Refuge in Irbil

As Syrians continue to flee their country’s unrest to seek new lives in safer places, VOA Persian Service reporter Shepol Abbassi visited Irbil, where a number Syrians have taken refuge. During the religious holidy of Eid al-Adha, the city largely shut down, as temperatures soared. Amy Katz narrates his report.

Video Nigeria’s Wecyclers Work for Reusable Future in Lagos

The streets and lagoons of Africa's largest city - Lagos, Nigeria - are often clogged with trash, almost none of which gets recycled. One company is trying to change that. Chris Stein reports for VOA from Lagos.

Video Sketch Artist Helps Catch Criminals, Gives a Face to Deceased

Police often face the problem of trying to find a crime suspect based on general descriptions that could fit hundreds of people in the vicinity of the crime. In these cases, an artist can use information from witnesses to sketch a likeness that police can show the public via newspapers and television. But, as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, such sketches can also help bring back faces of the dead.

Video Thailand Set to Build China-like Internet Firewall

Thai authorities are planning to tighten control over the Internet, creating a single international access point so they can better monitor content. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Bangkok on what is being called Thailand’s own "Great Firewall."

Video Croatian Town’s War History Evokes Empathy for Migrants

As thousands of Afghanistan, Iraqi and Syrian migrants pass through Croatia, locals are reminded of their own experiences with war and refugees in the 1990s. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from the town of Vukovar, where wartime scars still are visible today.

Video Long Drought Affecting California’s Sequoias

California is suffering under a historic four-year drought and scientists say even the state's famed sequoia trees are feeling the pain. The National Park Service has started detailed research to see how it can help the oldest living things on earth survive. VOA’s George Putic reports.

VOA Blogs