Deadly Golf Ball Factory Fire In Taiwan Kills Nine People

TAIPEI, Taiwan (AP) — Authorities said late Sunday that one person remained missing following a fire at a golf ball factory in Taiwan, after forensic analysis revealed that some bones found earlier in the day were not human.

The blaze Friday night killed nine other people, including four firefighters. Launch Technologies Co., the operator of the plant, is a major global supplier of golf balls.

Authorities had reported earlier that the remains of two people were found Sunday morning and of a third person in the afternoon, putting the death toll at 10. But one set of bones from the morning turned out to be non-human, officials said.

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

More than 100 people were injured in the blaze at Pingtung Technology Industrial Park. The fire was not extinguished until Saturday. 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.

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.

Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen traveled to Pingtung County on Saturday and met with victims and their families, Taiwanese broadcaster TVBS reported.