Drill held to practice for quake at science park


TAIPEI, Taiwan — The Ministry of the Interior staged a drill to simulate a massive earthquake hitting the Hsinchu Science Park, Taiwan’s “Silicon Valley,” in northern Taiwan.

Interior Minister Jiang Yi-huah said the drill was set up to respond to a simulated magnitude 6.8 earthquake caused by movement of the Hsincheng Fault, which affects the Taoyuan, Hsinchu, and Miaoli areas.

Jiang said the Hsinchu Science Park is the powerhouse of Taiwan’s high-tech industry with a great number of laboratories and chemical plants.

Damage control and management have become more important, especially after the fire at a Nan Ya Plastics Corp. factory in Chiayi County a day earlier, he said.

“If one Nan Ya plant can have such an impact, we can imagine the tremendous impact if the entire science park is affected,” he added.

He said that although 70-80 percent of earthquakes in the area hit eastern Taiwan, the heaviest casualties often occur in western Taiwan.

“We should not take the impact of earthquakes on densely populated areas lightly,” he said. “Compared with Hualien or other areas in southern Taiwan, Hsinchu may not have as many faults, but any fault could move.” The drill was performed to mark National Disaster Prevention Day, which is normally held on Sept. 21 to mark the 7.3 magnitude earthquake that killed more than 2,400 people and devastated central Taiwan on that day in 1999.

This year’s drill was postponed because of Typhoon Fanapi, which landed on Taiwan Sept. 19.