At least 9 killed in Taiwan earthquake; TSMC plants are recovering

TAIPEI – A powerful earthquake struck off the coast of Taiwan on Wednesday morning, killing at least nine people and shaking the island's vital high-tech industries, while triggering tsunami warnings in the Philippines and Japan's Okinawa.

A 7.2 magnitude earthquake was reported off the coast of Hualien, according to Taiwan's Central Meteorological Administration, which it said was the largest to hit the island since September 1999. As of 10pm local time, the official death toll stood at 9. 1,011 people were injured and 143 were trapped or unable to communicate.

Buildings collapsed and train tracks were broken in Hualien, where the local government suspended work and school for the day. Roads leading into the city were also cracked. Miners, workers at the luxury Silks Place Taroko hotel and tourists at the Jiuku cave were also trapped or unreachable.

Taiwan's tech companies are assessing the impact. Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing, the world's top chipmaker, said all workers were safe but the company had evacuated some of its factories as a precaution.

TSMC said in a statement Wednesday night that the tests found „a small number.” [chipmaking] Equipment at some facilities was damaged, affecting operations to some extent.” But there was no damage to critical equipment, including all of DSMC's advanced extreme ultraviolet (EUV) lithography machines, which make advanced applications for artificial intelligence and mobile phones, according to the company.

The chipmaker said more than 70% of its chipmaking equipment was recovered within 10 hours of the quake, and chip equipment operations at its state-of-the-art Fab 18 factory in the southern city of Tainan were 80% recovered.

READ  Impact of global food chokepoint pressures on food security in Asia

Liu Chitong, CFO of United Microelectronics, told Nikkei Asia that the world's third-largest contract chipmaker has also emptied production facilities. „Some chipmaking machines were stopped and now our team is trying to restart production machines as soon as possible,” he said.

Display producers Innolux and AUO both vacated facilities.

A manager at a TSMC equipment supplier told Nikkei Asia that his company is considering sending more employees to work overtime to help chipmakers cover disruptions during this weekend's graveyard-clearing holiday.

Sources at TSMC said some wafers were cracked and some machines were stopped at factories in Hsinchu. Many expected to have to work on holidays as well.

But as the day wore on, companies including Foxconn, United Microelectronics and Winbond all said they would not have a significant impact on finances.

Tainan, which has some advanced chip fabrication facilities — including DSMC's 5-nanometer and 3-nanometer factories that make processors for Apple's iPhones and Nvidia's AI computing chips — was less vulnerable.

On Taiwan's stock market, the Taiex weighted index fell after the opening bell. It fell to 0.63%, easing to 0.96% during the day.

In Japan, the Bureau of Meteorology measured a preliminary magnitude of 7.5, later upgraded to 7.7, while officials said they were seeing a difference in Taiwan's reading. They said the earthquake struck at a depth of 23 kilometers.

Japanese officials first warned of a tsunami that could reach 3 meters in Okinawa. A tsunami of up to 30 cm struck Japan's Yonakuni Island near Taiwan at 9:18 am. In the Philippines, authorities have also issued a tsunami warning for four provinces in the north.

READ  Economic Diplomacy: Hanging in ASEAN

Officials from both countries later canceled the warning.

Naha Airport, near the coast on Okinawa's main island, temporarily suspended commercial flights due to a tsunami warning, but resumed operations around 11 a.m.

Some Japanese companies operating in Taiwan reported minor damage, including chipmaking equipment maker Tokyo Electron and wafer polishing machinery supplier Epara. Tokyo Electron has several facilities in Hsinchu, Linkou, Taichung and Tainan — mainly for maintenance and corporate operations — but said it did not expect any long-term effects.

Meanwhile, a Japan Meteorological Agency official warned of further seismic instability. „Be aware of similar aftershocks for about a week after the earthquake. In particular, a larger earthquake is likely to occur in the next two or three days.” According to the agency, the earthquake may have been caused by compression of dip-slip faults and shifting up and down.

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida expressed his condolences to those who died in Taiwan. „Japan is ready to provide any help our overseas neighbor Taiwan needs in difficult times,” he wrote in X.

Additional reporting by Sayumi Take, Tamayo Muto and Ryohtaro Sato in Tokyo.

Dodaj komentarz

Twój adres e-mail nie zostanie opublikowany. Wymagane pola są oznaczone *