TAIWAN QUAKE SPARES TEXTILE, APPAREL PLANTS

Byline: Jim Ostroff

WASHINGTON — The powerful earthquake that shook Taiwan’s northern coast Monday — which is known to have left nearly 2,000 dead and 100,000 homeless — apparently spared the city’s heavy industrial centers, including those that make textiles and apparel, a spokesman for Taiwan here said Tuesday.
Jo Lai, a textile issues officer with the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representatives Office in the U.S., said early reports received here indicated “industries in general were not much hurt by the quake.”
He said that while some textile firms operate in suburban Taipei industrial parks, most of these mills are located far south and west of the capital, along the Taiwan Straight that separates Taiwan from China. Lai could not estimate how far removed these mills are from the areas damaged by the quake, though.
Taiwan was the U.S.’s seventh-largest foreign supplier of apparel and textiles during the first seven months of this year, when it shipped 729 million square meters equivalent of these products to this country.
The strong temblor, measured by the U.S. Geological Survey at 7.6 on the Richter scale, was centered in Nantou, about 120 miles south of Taipei. It struck at 1:47 a.m. local time Tuesday, and several hundred people reportedly died when their apartment buildings and homes collapsed while they were asleep.
Initial reports by Western media indicated Taipei, with a population of 2.7 million, suffered relatively little damage, although photos of the collapsed 12-story Taipei Hotel splashed across the front pages of many American newspapers Tuesday.
A telephone survey Tuesday by WWD of several U.S. importers found that most had little or no information from their Taipei offices, due to an interruption in communications.
Lai said reports he had received here indicated Taipei’s international airport was never shut down and that most electrical service had been restored to the capital city by Wednesday, local time.