Earthquake injures 11 in Taiwan; damage limited

TAIPEI Thu Mar 4, 2010 9:28am EST

1 of 7. A man looks at broken statues inside a temple damaged by a quake that hit Shanlin Township, Kaohsiung County, southern Taiwan, March 4, 2010.

Credit: Reuters/Stringer

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TAIPEI (Reuters) - An earthquake of magnitude 6.4 shook Taiwan early on Thursday, injuring 11, stopping transport

and causing minor damage and fires in the southern half of the island.

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

Falling objects, including a tree, injured people in south Taiwan after the 8:18 a.m. (0018 GMT) quake, said Liang Yu-chu, a spokesman with Taiwan's National Fire Administration disaster response center.

The quake also set off five fires, including one at a textile factory, and caused 16 elevators to get stuck, Liang said.

Services on the southern half of Taiwan's high-speed rail linking Taipei with the south were stopped pending safety checks.

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 remains normal.

The epicenter of the quake was in the mountains northeast of the city of Kaohsiung at a depth of 5 km, the Central Weather Bureau said.

No major damage was reported near the epicenter, a rural area hard hit in August by a deadly typhoon, Liang said.

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

The quake was felt in the capital Taipei, where buildings shook for several minutes. Officials in the southern county of Chiayi reported some objects falling off roof tops.

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

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

(Reporting by the Taipei bureau; Editing by David Fox)

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