TSMC evacuated fabs after M7.4 earthquake hit Taiwan

Internet outages recorded as Japan issues tsunami warning

Video A significant earthquake has struck Taiwan, shuttering some of Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing's chip fabrication plants.

Taiwan's Seismology Center recorded multiple quakes on Wednesday, local time. The big one, which struck at 0758 in Taipei (2358 UTC), registered 7.2 in magnitude according to Taiwanese officials; the US Geological Survey pegged it at 7.4.

While the big quake struck off Taiwan's east coast – over 100 kilometers from Taiwan's capital Taipei and the island's tech manufacturing districts – TSMC has reportedly evacuated some of its chip fabrication plants as a safety precaution for its personnel.

The company hasn't posted an update at the time of writing, but The Reg has spotted a regulatory filing from Taiwanese electronics manufacturer Synpopwer, which like TSMC is headquartered in Taoyuan City, and it reports "no significant impact" to operations or finances.

Any impact on TSMC could be more severe, as chipmaking is a finicky businsess. According to CNBC the company's staff have started returning to work.

Reports suggest significant damage to buildings in Hualien City, the part of Taiwan closest to the 'quake, and internet outages have been detected in downtown Taipei.

But Taiwan's stock exchange, which appears to be operating at the time of writing, has experienced only a minor dip – suggesting businesses are not expecting a major impact. The bourse also advised its operations were not impacted by the shake.

The nation's President Tsai Ing-wen acknowledged the quake on Facebook, and advised residents to stay out of elevators and to seek information on disruptions to rail transport. She added that Taiwan's Central Disaster Response Center has been activated, but offered no information on economic impact of the event.

Your correspondent has been present in Taiwan during smaller quakes, and received cellphone text messages advising of sensible precautions. The alerts caused no discernible response other than a chorus of smartphone alert sounds.

Footage supplied to The Register by Taiwanese newswire News Plus shows no panic in an office as some light fittings sway, and commuters seemingly unfussed by delays to trains.

Youtube Video

The wire service reports four deaths, and sixty injuries.

Taiwan lies to the south-west of Japan, whose authorities have issued a tsunami warning and urged citizens to be on guard as strong earthquakes are seldom singular events. ®

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