A man points at a seismic chart at the Central Weather Bureau in Taipei after a 6.4 magnitude rocked southern Taiwan near the islands second largest city of Kaohsiung. The quake hit about 70 kilometres from the main southern city of Kaohsiung, the US Geological Survey said, and it was felt as far away as the capital Taipei in the north of the island. -AFP Photo/Sam Yeh

TAIPEI A magnitude 6.4 earthquake that hit Taiwan early on Thursday injured 64 people, cut power supplies, briefly hit stocks and caused fires in the southern half of the island.

The quake caused a brief dip in the islands stock market, with semiconductor firms including TSMC, the worlds No.1 contract chip maker, falling on concerns production could be hit.

TSMC said in a statement later on Thursday its plants in southern Tainan city had gradually resumed production.

“Our initial estimate is that the earthquake caused the equivalent of 1.5 days loss of wafer movement for the company in total,” the statement said.

Authorities said the injuries were minor after the quake, which struck at 818 a.m. (0018 GMT), some due to falling objects such as trees and walls. TV pictures showed cars buried under bricks from collapsed walls.

The quake also started fires, including one that badly damaged a textile factory, and caused lifts to get stuck in buildings, said Liang Yu-chu, a spokesman with Taiwans National Fire Administration disaster response centre.

The quake was felt in the capital Taipei, where buildings shook for several minutes.
Services on the southern half of Taiwans high-speed rail linking Taipei with the south were stopped temporarily pending safety checks, with a wheel of one train coming off the tracks.

But an official of the Tainan Science Industrial Park, which houses plants of many tech firms, including TSMC, UMC and Chi Mei, said no big production losses were likely and electricity supply remained normal.

The epicentre of the quake was in the mountains northeast of the city of Kaohsiung at a depth of 5 km, the Central Weather Bureau said. The epicentre was a rural area hard hit in August by a deadly typhoon.

Taiwan uses the Richter scale to measure earthquake intensity. The U.S. Geological Survey put the quakes magnitude at 6.4, revised from an initial 6.5 and put the depth at 35 km.

Earthquakes occur frequently in Taiwan, which lies on a seismically active stretch of the Pacific basin.

One of Taiwans worst-recorded quakes occurred in September 1999. Measuring 7.6, it killed more than 2,400 people and destroyed or damaged 50,000 buildings.— Reuters

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