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Massive quake hits Taiwan

Update: Death toll rising as capital hit by power cuts

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Taiwan has been rocked by the biggest earthquake to hit the island in more than century. More than 1,400 people have been killed, around 4,000 are injured many thousands of others are trapped in collapsed buildings. The quake is understood to have registered an initial reading of as much as 7.6 on the Richter scale -- putting it in the same league as the earthquake that devastated Turkey last month. Last nigh, the capital, Taipei, was understood to be in blackout, while in the central areas of Nantou and Taichung, close to the epicentre and 90 miles south west of Taipei, soldiers and rescue workers raced to dig survivors from the rubble. But there was some encouraging early news from TSMC, the giant Taiwanese chip foundry. The company's "buildings, HVAC systems, water distribution and power distribution systems successfully withstood the effects of [the] earthquake that shook the Hsin Chu Taiwan area early Tuesday morning," the company said. Many workers had made it into work, TSMC added. But its plants are operating only on stand-by power. Full restoration of power will be necessary, to assess the damage, it said. Taiwan is one of the world's great IT manufacturing centres -- and it is a hugely important source for PC components. The earthquake will disrupt production and this could lead to shortages and price rises in the PC industry's all-important run-up to Christmas. Don't forget that a black-out in Taiwan in July saw DRAM production fall two per cent worldwide that month, which in turn fuelled price rises in the memory market. And this is much, much worse. ® See also Korean stocks soar on Taiwan disaster Earthquake costs Taiwan semicon industry $300m

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