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Taiwan golf ball factory fire kills nine, leaves one missing and over 100 injured

26 September 2023

A fire and explosions at a golf ball manufacturer in Taiwan killed nine people and injured over 100 others on 22 September. The incident happened at a facility operated by Launch Technologies, a major international supplier of golf balls. One person remains missing.

Representative image: Shutterstock
Representative image: Shutterstock

The fire broke out in the evening of 22 September and continued into the morning at the factory in the Pingtung Technology Industrial Park in southern Taiwan. Local officials said that as firefighters tackled the blaze, a series of explosions occurred which caused part of the factory to collapse, leaving several people trapped under rubble.

After the fire was extinguished, search and rescue efforts began to find the missing people. Taiwanese media report that nine people were confirmed to have died with their bodies being found during the search efforts. One person remains missing.

Over 100 people with varying degrees of injuries were reported to have been injured, many of who were rushed to hospital. Taiwan’s Ministry of Labour said that an investigation would begin immediately. Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen visited the scene of the fire on 23 September and offered her condolences to the victims.

On 25 September, local authorities said that Launch Technologies, which operates the factory, would be fined 2.4 million New Taiwan dollars (£61,000) and said criminal charges could follow. The officials said that Launch Technologies had been storing over 30 times the legal limit of hazardous materials at the factory, among other violations.

Launch Technologies shipped around 260 million golf balls around the world in 2022. The company had reportedly been storing around 3,000 tons of organic peroxides which are used to manufacturer rubber products including the cores of golf balls.

The golf ball manufacturer has been fined in the past in relation to both health & safety and air pollutions charges. Local officials said that the company would face the consequences if any wrongdoing is confirmed in the investigation.

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