China blast may delay iPhone 6 launch

China blast may delay iPhone 6 launch
Residents gather as they attend a candlelight vigil for victims of a factory explosion, in Kunshan, Jiangsu province August 2, 2014.

BEIJING - More than 40 companies have had their operations halted after a deadly explosion in eastern China's Jiangsu province, potentially delaying the release of Apple's iPhone 6, Chinese newspaper Commercial Times reported.

The blast, which killed 75 people and injured 185, was triggered when a flame was lit in a dust-filled room at the Kunshan Zhongrong Metal Production Company, the local government said at a news conference on Saturday.

Dust suspended in the air in the right concentration can cause explosions, according to safety experts, with even materials that do not normally burn in larger pieces becoming explosive under certain conditions.

About an hour's drive from Shanghai, Kunshan Zhongrong polishes wheel hubs for carmakers, including General Motors. The blast is China's worst industrial accident in a year.

China on Monday announced a nationwide safety overhaul on explosive materials, Xinhua reported.

The campaign will target factories that process aluminium, magnesium, coal, wood, paper, tobacco, cotton and plastic, among other materials, and have potential ignition sources, the State Council Work Safety Commission said.

Kunshan's local safety supervision authority has issued an order to suspend operations at more than 40 enterprises in the city, so that the companies can conduct safety checks, the Chinese media said.

Among those affected by the work stoppage are factories belonging to Taiwan's Foxconn, the contract manufacturer for Apple's iPhone and iPad.

The iPhone 6 was rumoured to be released next month or in October.

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