March 4th, 2010

Earthquake in Taiwan

Posted at 9:46 AM ET

taiwanearthquake1smallA strong earthquake struck southern Taiwan at 0:18 UTC earlier today, causing minor damage and disrupting transport. The earthquake, measuring 6.4 Mw, was located 25 miles (40 kilometers) west-northwest of Taitung and 40 miles (60 kilometers) east-southeast of Tainan, according to the US Geological Survey (USGS). The USGS added that the quake was centred about 14.4 miles (23.1 kilometers) underground. Fifteen aftershocks have been recorded following the main earthquake, reports said. The USGS said more than 3.1 million people live in areas impacted by a Modified Mercalli Intensity (MMI) of V or higher (see Table 1 below), equivalent to moderate shaking with the potential for light damage. This number includes the 765,000 people living in the city of Tainan, the USGS said. No tsunami alert was issued.

The quake was centred in the mountainous region of Kaohsiung County, near the town of Jiashian. Troops have been dispatched to Jiashian to assess the extent of the damage after officials said some temporary housing in the town collapsed. Reports said damage was also reported in Jiayi and Tainan counties. The National Fire Agency said twelve minor injuries were reported. Rail services in southern and central Taiwan were suspended, as was the state-of-the-art subway system in Kaohsiung City, Taiwan’s second largest with a population of 1.5 million. In nearby Tainan City, a fire broke out in a textile factory shortly after the earthquake hit, sending huge plumes of black smoke into the air. Four other fires were reported across southern Taiwan. Power outages also struck Tainan while communications were disrupted as far north as Taipei, the capital. Reports said buildings swayed in Taipei during the earthquake, but no major damage was reported in the capital.

taiwanearthquake1big

Hazard data illustrated in the CAT-i map was taken from i-aXs®, Guy Carpenter’s web-based risk management platform. i-aXs users can view impacted areas on any map as well as see how their portfolios were affected. Please contact your broker or Instrat® representative for assistance or go to www.i-axs.info for further information.

Initial reports suggest semiconductor firms located near the epicentre location were not significantly affected by the earthquake. An official of the Tainan Science Industrial Park, which houses plants of many hi-tech firms, said no big production losses were likely and electricity supply remains normal.

Table 1: Estimated Population Exposed to Significant Earthquake Shaking

 

Estimated MMI

Estimated Population Exposure

Perceived Shaking

VI

200

Strong

V

3,149,000

Moderate

Sources: USGS, WSI, Reuters News, Associated News, Agence France Presse, BBC News, CNN News

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Guy Carpenter’s Instrat® department provides CAT-i reports for major natural catastrophes worldwide. These reports cover catastrophes including worldwide tropical cyclones, earthquakes, major UK and European floods and any other natural event that is likely to incur a significant loss to the (re)insurance industry. Please email CAT.i@guycarp.com if you wish to be added to the free email distribution list.

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