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Magnitude 7.4 earthquake hits Taiwan - TSMC evacuates plants

Magnitude 7.4 earthquake hits Taiwan - TSMC evacuates plants
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According to seismologists, this is the strongest earthquake in Taiwan in 25 years—there are casualties, dozens of buildings have collapsed.

During the night, an earthquake with a magnitude of 7.4 occurred off the eastern coast of Taiwan, epicentered 18 km from the city of Hualien. The country issued a tsunami warning (which has since been canceled), and Japan and the Philippines began preparing for potential flooding.

Taiwan is prone to earthquakes as it is located near the convergence of two tectonic plates.

According to the US Geological Survey, this is the most powerful earthquake in Taiwan in the last 25 years. Several dozens of building collapses have been recorded, nearly one hundred thousand households are without electricity, there are problems with the internet, and at the moment, there is information about at least 4 fatalities and more than 50 injured, as reported by CNN.

The earthquake may also significantly impact the production of microchips, causing a shortage or price spike in key components, which in turn will lead to an increase in the prices of electronics—particularly laptops and televisions.

Partially collapsed building in Hualien city. Photo: TVBS

Taiwan produces 80% to 90% of the highest-grade chips necessary for modern applications in smartphones and AI.

The earthquake caused landslides in the mountainous part of Taiwan. Photo: Reuters

According to Bloomberg, the world's largest manufacturer of advanced chips TSMC, which collaborates with Apple and Nvidia, has started evacuating its plants. Smaller local competitor UMC (United Microelectronics Corp.) has also halted operations.

"TSMC's security systems are operating normally. To ensure the safety of personnel, some plants have been evacuated," said the company statement. "We are currently assessing the consequences."

TSMC plants are located on the western side of Taiwan, while the earthquake occurred off the eastern coast, hence the evacuation was carried out as a precautionary measure.

In September 1999, a magnitude 7.6 earthquake struck Taiwan, resulting in 2400 fatalities and the destruction of 5000 buildings. At that time, prices for DRAM modules jumped by more than 25%, and the shortage lasted for months.

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