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Japan's electronics companies escape two quakes

Japan's electronics companies escape two quakes

Reports from Japan's major electronics and semiconductor makers suggest their manufacturing facilities suffered no damage and no production stops after two earthquakes shook the country's western region on Sunday.

The earthquakes originated in an area off Japan's Pacific coast bordering seven prefectures: Aichi, Gifu, Mie, Nara, Osaka, Shiga, and Wakayama. The region lies between 300 kilometers and 500 km west of Tokyo. The first earthquake hit at 7:07 p.m. local time Sunday, and was centered about 110 km off the coast of the Kii Peninsula in Mie prefecture, at a depth of about 10 km. It had a magnitude of 6.9, according to the Japan Meteorological Agency. The agency immediately issued a tsunami tidal wave warning.

The second earthquake struck with a magnitude of 7.3 at 11:57 p.m. Sunday evening. It was centered about 130 kilometers off the same coast, also at a depth of 10 kilometers, and was followed by an aftershock with a magnitude of 5.7 at 5:31 am Monday, according to the agency.

A total of 39 people were injured, and electricity was cut to about 600 homes in Wakayama City, Wakayama prefecture, according to local reports.

The earthquakes struck just days after annual disaster drills were held in Shizuoka Prefecture, which borders the region hit yesterday. The drills were held on Sept.1, the anniversary of the Great Kanto Earthquake of 1923. That earthquake struck with an intensity of 7.9 and killed over 140,000 people.

In January 1995 an earthquake with a magnitude of 7.2 shook the western port city of Kobe, killing over 6,000 people.

Toshiba Corp. reported no damage to its facilities and offices in the region, including its NAND-type flash memory factory at Yokkaichi, Mie prefecture, Midori Suzuki, a company spokeswoman, said on Monday.

Matsushita Electric Industrial Co. Ltd., better known for its Panasonic brand, has 20 fabrication facilities in the seven prefectures nearest the earthquakes. The company, which is headquartered in Osaka, received no reports of damage or stoppages to any of its plants in the region, according Yoshihiro Kitadeya, a company spokesman.

Hitachi Ltd., Fujitsu Corp., NEC Corp., Sanyo Electric Co. Ltd. and Sharp Corp. all reported that their respective facilities in the region had experienced no damage and no stoppages on Monday.

The Japan Meteorological Agency, however, experienced a glitch in a local computer system which delayed detailed information about a small tsunami measuring 86 centimeters that followed the first earthquake, the agency said today.

Information about magnitude, depth and epicenter usually follows within minutes of earthquakes measuring over magnitude three. Earthquakes of about this magnitude or higher can shake buildings enough to be noticeable to people. Details are broadcast as news flashes by national public television broadcaster NHK (Nippon Hyoso Kyokai.)

While the immediate information about the first earthquake was broadcast by 7:09 p.m. yesterday, and a tsunami warning issued, information about the tsunami's estimated size and areas potentially affected was delayed 30 or 40 minutes, according to an agency spokesman.

"As you probably saw, the information was flashed automatically, on NHK, so the warning was issued. But there was a computer breakdown in the area," the spokesman said. The spokesman declined to give details about the problem and declined to give his name, saying it was agency's policy not to do so. The spokesman declined to discuss the issue further.

Other companies were not immediately able to provide status reports on their factories in the region.

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