A Foxconn plant that creates parts for Apple's new iPhone had to be shut down today after a huge dormitory brawl escalated into a riot involving as many as 2,000 workers. The fight began late on Sunday night as a personal dispute between several workers, but quickly escalated into a full-blown skirmish, with employees battling security guards and setting fires to some of the buildings. Chinese state media claimed that more than 5,000 police officers were sent to plant, which is located in the city of Taiyuan, in north central China, near Beijing. Around 40 people were hurt in the late-night melee, though there are no reports of life-threatening injuries. While the fight may have began as a simple dispute it's a sign of larger unrest at the company, which has faced heavy pressure recently to improve pay and working conditions.
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Because of damage to some production lines and the ongoing police investigation, the factory could be shut for as many as three days, but market watchers don't seem to be too concerned about a possible interruption to Apple's business. Foxconn's stock price has fallen three percent on the Hong Kong market today, which is significant, but not a disastrous result under the circumstances. The massive plant employs and houses around 79,000 workers, but manufactures components for many different businesses, including automobile parts and precision moldings for other electronics companies. CNBC reported this morning that the factory creates the back panels for the new iPhone 5, but is not the only Foxconn factory to do so — it is also not involved in the final assembly of the phones — so it's too soon to tell if there will be any disruption to Apple's supply chain just as the rush to deliver brand new iPhones is hitting America.