Massive explosion at Taiwan golf equipment factory leaves 1 firefighter dead and 96 injured


23rd September 2023 – (Taipei) A devastating explosion occurred at the Launch Technologies CoL golf equipment factory in the export processing zone of Pingtung County, Taiwan. The explosion resulted in a massive fire that continues to rage, claiming the life of one firefighter and leaving 96 people injured, including 7 firefighters and 89 civilians. The firefighters, while bravely attempting to extinguish the flames, were caught in a flash explosion and subsequently trapped under debris.

Pingtung County Fire Department Director revealed that the factory premises were filled with a substantial amount of methane and natural gas. The attempt to douse the flames with water led to a sudden and catastrophic explosion. Efforts are currently underway to rescue the trapped individuals. As of now, 10 people, comprising 3 firefighters and 7 civilians, remain missing. Local media reports suggest that the golf ball manufacturing facility used a mixture of synthetic rubber and critical additives for the ball’s core, with the rubber content exceeding 99%. Some of these additives are known to react strongly or even explode when in contact with water, explaining the continuous reports of explosions during the fire.

The deceased firefighter’s identity could not be immediately confirmed due to the severe nature of their injuries. The only clue was a laundry receipt bearing the surname “Lai” found among their clothing. Lai’s father arrived at the hospital and was overcome with grief, requiring assistance to support himself. However, he was unable to definitively confirm if the victim was his son. Subsequently, several batches of relatives arrived to identify the deceased, but as of now, the victims’ identities remain uncertain.

The incident unfolded at  Pingtung Science Park in Pingtung City, Pingtung County, on the evening of Friday, 22nd September. Authorities were alerted to an explosion at a technology company. Firefighters and emergency services promptly rushed to the scene for rescue operations. However, the intensity of the fire resulted in multiple firefighters being trapped, while scores of civilians and emergency personnel suffered casualties. One firefighter has tragically lost their life, and three firefighters, along with eight factory employees, remain trapped.

The factory involved in the industrial accident, Launch Technologies Co, is a well-known domestic golf ball manufacturer and a subsidiary of the globally recognized golf equipment factory, Ming An International. Both companies are publicly listed. Established in July 2006, Launch Technologies Co was officially listed on the stock exchange on 10th November, 2014. Its primary business revolves around the production of professional golf balls supplied to renowned global brands in the golf industry, including TaylorMade, Callaway, and Mizuno.

Launch Technologies Coreported record-breaking revenue and profits last year, with an annual shipping volume of 21.7 million golf balls, representing a 20% year-on-year increase. The company’s sales distribution is primarily concentrated in the Americas (82%), followed by Asia (16%), with Taiwan and other regions accounting for the remaining 2%. To meet the demands of the golf ball market, the company had planned to increase its production capacity and expand its facilities in Pingtung. However, with the tragic incident now unfolding, the future operations and prospects of the company could suffer a severe setback.