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Taiwan Quake Kills One as Trains Halted, Factories Evacuated

TSMC Factories Evacuated After 6.1 Magnitude Quake Hits Taiwan
Kuo Kai-wen, director of Seismology Center, speaks to the press at the central Weather Bureau in Taipei on March 27, 2013. A magnitude 6.1 earthquake struck central Taiwan’s Nantou county at 10:03 a.m. Photographer: Sam Yeh/AFP/Getty Images

Taiwan’s largest earthquake this year killed one person and forced rail lines to shut while factories returned to normal after evacuating employees.

A tremor measuring 6.1 struck the central region of Nantou county at 10:03 a.m., Taiwan’s Central Weather Bureau reported, shaking buildings in the capital Taipei about 153 kilometers (95 miles) away. At least five aftershocks followed, it said.

Occurring at a depth of 15.4 kilometers, the temblor centered in the same region as a 1999 quake which measured 7.3 and killed more than 2,000 people. Workers at Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. were evacuated at two sites after its emergency response mechanism was triggered. The company later said it expects no impact from the quake.

A 72-year-old woman died and at least 19 were injured, with two fires reported, the National Fire Administration said in a statement and text message.

Taiwan High Speed Rail Corp. halted at least six trains on the north-south track, according to a text message from the company. About 11,500 travelers have been affected by delayed trains and landslides blocked a highway in Nantou, the transportation ministry said.

The U.S. Geological Survey recorded the earthquake’s magnitude as 6.0 and occurring at a depth of 20.7 kilometers, it said on its website. Today’s was the strongest quake record since a 6.2 magnitude tremor hit on Dec. 8, according to the Taiwan bureau.

Automatic Evacuations

TSMC, the world’s largest custom manufacturer of chips, automatically evacuated one plant in Hsinchu, where it is based, and another in Taichung in central Taiwan, spokesman Michael Kramer said. Workers returned to work soon after and operations are not expected to be affected, he said.

United Microelectronics Corp., the world’s second-largest contract maker of chips, Innolux Corp. and AU Optronics Corp., Taiwan’s largest manufacturers of liquid crystal displays, and Corning Inc., the U.S. supplier of glass for electronics screens, said in separate statements today the companies expect no impact.

Taiwan’s dollar was 0.1 percent higher at NT$29.871 as of 3:04 p.m. in Taipei trading. Taiwan’s Taiex rose 0.5 percent to 7,894.12 at the 1:30 p.m. close.

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