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Death Toll Rises in Taiwanese Golf Ball Factory Fire

TAIPEI, TAIWAN — Search teams Sunday found the bodies of the last three missing people at the site of a golf ball factory fire in southern Taiwan, bringing the death toll to 10, according to Taiwanese media reports.

Launch Technologies, the operator of the plant, is a major global supplier of golf balls.

Four of the victims were firefighters. Taiwan’s Central News Agency, quoting a Pingtung County fire official, said an explosion Friday caused part of the building to collapse about 6:10 p.m., trapping firefighters and workers under rubble, A second explosion followed 20 minutes later.

Two bodies were found Sunday morning and the final one was recovered in the afternoon. About 100 people were injured in the blaze at Pingtung Technology Industrial Park. The fire was not extinguished until the next day. The cause remained unclear.

Taiwan is a major manufacturer of golf balls with factories supplying major brands including Callaway, TaylorMade, Bridgestone, Mizuno and Wilson, according to the 2021 annual report of Launch Technologies Co.

Launch Technologies, which is listed on the Taipei Exchange, shipped about 260 million golf balls last year, accounting for one-fifth of the global total, the Central News Agency said. About 80% of its sales are in the United States.

The Ministry of Labor said Saturday it would open an occupational safety investigation into Launch Technologies and its parent company. The factory, which is in an export processing zone, has been fined in the past for violations found during inspections, the Central News Agency said.

Source : VOA News