Strong Taiwan Quake Shakes Buildings, Halts Chipmaking, Trains

By Adela Lin and Argin Chang | October 31, 2013

An earthquake measuring 6.3 on the Richter scale struck eastern Taiwan, shaking buildings in the capital and prompting the island’s biggest chipmaker to temporarily evacuate factory workers.

One person was injured and there were no immediate reports of major damage. The 78-second tremor, felt islandwide, occurred at about 8:02 p.m. local time yesterday, according to a statement on the website of the island’s Central Weather Bureau. The epicenter was 52.9 kilometers south of the coastal city of Hualien and at depth of 19.5 kilometers, it said.

Buildings in Taipei, the capital, swayed for several seconds. The island’s high-speed railway delayed two trains and some rail and metro services were temporarily halted, according to the Central News Agency. There was limited damage at Taoyuan International Airport, eyewitnesses said.

“It was pretty strong,” said Eric Chan, a 35-year-old businessman who was waiting for a flight back to Hong Kong, where he’s based. “I saw the water in my glass shaking and the lights shaking. It must have been like that for 10 or 15 seconds. The waitress told me not to worry because the airport is quake-proofed.”

A 79-year-old woman in Hualien County was hospitalized for broken bones after she fell during the quake, CNA reported, citing the county fire department. Some people were trapped in elevators and some merchandise fell on shop floors, it said.

Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co., the world’s largest contract maker of chips, evacuated three factories for a few minutes after the temblor, Michael Kramer, a public relations spokesman, said by phone. Workers have since returned to their jobs, he said.

UMC Halt

United Microelectronics Corp., another chipmaker, halted some of its machines and expected to resume operations in a few hours, Chief Financial Officer Liu Chitung said by phone.

The administration of Hsinchu Science Park, where many of Taiwan’s high-technology companies are based, said it didn’t receive any reports of damage, nor did any of the island’s 62 industrial parks, CNA reported. Electricity supply and nuclear plants are normal, Roger Lee, a Taiwan Power Co. spokesman, said by phone.

After the tremor, 28 aftershocks measuring as strong as 4.6 hit Hualien County as of 9:57 p.m., Hsiao Nai-chi, a specialist at the weather bureau, said by phone. Tiles fell off a building and damaged a car in Taipei City, TVBS cable television reported.

An 7.3-magnitude earthquake on Sept. 21, 1999, killed 2,474 people and injured about 11,000, causing estimated visible property damage of NT$341.2 billion ($10.7 billion), the government said at the time.

This year, there have been 135 quakes of at least 4.0, with the strongest, of 6.8, on Sept. 6, according to the weather bureau.

Taiwan’s economy grew at the slowest pace in a year in the third quarter, as a weak global recovery reduced demand for the island’s exports.

(With assistance from Alexandra Ho in Shanghai and Debra Mao in Taipei. Editors: Allen Wan, Joshua Fellman)

Was this article valuable?

Here are more articles you may enjoy.