Gas poisoning at Apple supplier factory in China leaves one dead, four injured

Thursday's accident was caused from poisoning at a waste water treatment plant

One person died, and four were injured in a gas poisoning accident at an Apple supplier in China, which authorities said was caused by "improper operation" at its subsidiary's waste treatment facility.

The accident occurred on Thursday in Suzhou, China, at a subsidiary of Catcher Technology, a Taiwanese company that builds casings for electronic devices. Catcher, a known Apple supplier, could not be immediately reached for comment. But in a filing to the Taiwan Stock Exchange, the company reported the accident, stating that it was an isolated event "not directly related to any manufacturing process, factory or materials."

The Suzhou Industrial Park Administrative Committee elaborated on the accident, stating that it led to the poisoning of five workers while they were working at a waste water treatment facility. Following the accident, the workers were sent to the hospital, the committee said in a statement. Of the four remaining workers, one has been transferred to normal hospital care, while the three others are still seeking treatment.

Authorities have closed down the waste water treatment facility, and an environmental department is investigating what caused the poisoning. A preliminary examination found the poisoning to be from hydrogen sulfide, a highly toxic and flammable gas known to collect in poorly ventilated areas such as basements and sewer lines.

Neighboring residential areas, however, so far show no presence of the harmful gas, but authorities continue to monitor the situation.

The poisoning accident occurs after Catcher Technology was last year forced to suspend operations at a subsidiary factory in the area. Residents had complained of a foul odor coming from the factory, that they feared was damaging their health.

The factory is still closed, according to a spokeswoman with the Suzhou Industrial Park Administrative Committee. The committee said in March that changes were being made to it as environmental inspectors proceeded with an investigation of the facility.

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Michael Kan

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