Updated Apr 3, 2024 - Science

Strongest quake in 25 years rocks Taiwan

Damaged houses and road following an earthquake in New Taipei City, Taiwan, on Wednesday. Photo: An Rong Xu/Bloomberg via Getty Images

A powerful earthquake struck Taiwan, killing at least nine people and wounding nearly 1,000 on Wednesday morning, according to Taiwan's fire department.

The big picture: Taiwan's National Fire Agency said the deaths occurred in Hualien County, near the strongest quake in 25 years' epicenter, as the island's Central News Agency reported hundreds of residents were trapped beneath partially collapsed buildings in the city of Hualien.

  • The 7.4-magnitude quake knocked out power in portions of the capital Taipei, Taiwan's Central Weather Administration noted.
  • The quake's epicenter was some 11 miles south of Hualien and its impact paused production at Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. (TSMC), a key contract chipmaker to companies including Nvidia and Apple, Bloomberg reports.

The latest: White House National Security Council spokesperson Adrienne Watson said Wednesday that the U.S. "stands ready to provide any necessary assistance."

  • She said they are "monitoring reports of the earthquake impacting Taiwan and continue to monitor its potential impact on Japan."

Zoom in: Rescue operations were underway following the quake, which triggered tsunami warnings for the island and neighboring countries including Japan. The warnings were later lifted.

  • Japan's Meteorological Agency noted that several small tsunami waves reached Okinawa prefecture in the south.

What we're watching: Taiwan is a crucial global manufacturing hub for advanced computer chips and it wasn't immediately clear whether supply chains could be impacted, after chipmaker United Microelectronics Corp. also announced it had evacuated staff due to the quake.

  • Meanwhile, TSMC said in a statement that its safety systems were operating normally, per Bloomberg.
  • "To ensure the safety of personnel, some fabs were evacuated according to company procedure," the company said. "We are currently confirming the details of the impact."

Editor's note: This article has been updated with new details.

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