Manufacturers experience minor production stoppages after earthquake

Taipei--Manufacturers with operations in southern Taiwan said on Saturday that their plants were largely unscathed when a magnitude 5.6 earthquake struck that part of the country earlier in the day.

After the temblor, several major manufacturing firms, including Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. (TSMC, ???), the world's largest contract chip maker, and flat panel giant Innolux Corp. (??), said they suffered minor disruptions but that operations had returned to normal or were expected to do so soon.

The epicenter of the strongest earthquake so far this year, which struck at 01:12, was located 12.2 kilometers to the southwest of Tainan City Hall at a depth of 18.4 kilometers, Central Weather Bureau data showed. The quake left four people injured, just over a year after 117 people were killed by a strong earthquake in Tainan and Kaohsiung.

The quake's intensity, which gauges the actual effect of a temblor, was highest in Tainan, where it measured at 6 on Taiwan's 7-tier intensity scale, the bureau said. In Kaohsiung and Pingtung County to the south and Chiayi, Yunlin and Changhua counties in the north, the intensity was measured at 3 to 4, it added.

TSMC, which has an advanced 12-inch wafer plant in Tainan, said that although production in the plant was halted by the earthquake, it is confident production will return to normal within a day.

The chip maker said it has instructed the plant's management team to return to work and fix production glitches. It added that operations at the plant are likely to be back to normal soon and the stoppage is unlikely to impact shipments for the first quarter.

United Microelectronics Corp. (UMC, ??), the second largest contract chip maker in Taiwan, which also runs a 12-inch wafer plant in Tainan, said the earthquake had little adverse impact on its plant.

The first quarter is traditionally a slow season for the global semiconductor industry, with both TSMC and UMC forecasting that sales for the January-March period will fall from the previous quarter.

For its part, Innolux, a flat panel manufacturing arm of Hon Hai Technology Group (????), said it evacuated all employees from its plant in Kaohsiung's Lujhu district when the earthquake struck. Since then, workers have returned to the production line and normal operations are expected to resume by the end of Saturday, Innolux added.

Hannstar Display Corp. (??), another flat panel maker, with a production base in Tainan, said the plant has raised anti-earthquake measures after the deadly quake hit southern Taiwan last year so Saturday's temblor caused only a brief pause in production, with work already back to normal.

State-owned Taiwan Power Co. (Taipower, ??), the sole power supplier in the country, said that about 50,000 households lost power after the quake but related problems have been resolved.

Taipower said the brief power outage was caused by damage to transformers in power generators in the city, while the company's wind power farm and solar panels were unaffected.

Meanwhile, state-run gasoline supplier CPC Corp., Taiwan (??) said that an inspection indicated operations at a natural gas storage facility in Yungan District, Kaohsiung, remained normal despite the earthquake.

Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel