Acer sees global chip shortage gradually easing

TAIPEI (Reuters) – A global shortage of chips for mid-end consumer products is starting to ease and will be much better come the second half of the year, a senior executive at Taiwan’s Acer Inc, the world’s No. 5 PC vendor by shipments, said on Tuesday.

From delayed car deliveries to a supply shortfall in home appliances to costlier smartphones, businesses and consumers across the globe are facing the brunt of an unprecedented shortage in semiconductor microchips.

Originally concentrated in the auto industry, the shortage has now spread to a range of other consumer electronics, including smartphones, refrigerators and microwaves.

Andrew Hou, Acer’s president for Pan-Asia Pacific Operations, told reporters in Taipei that since the problem first became apparent in the fourth quarter of last year, the supply chain has “jumped into action” as suppliers worked to address the situation.

Hou said he expected better supplies in the second quarter compared with the first quarter of this year, and that the situation in the second half will be better than the second quarter.

“That’s what we are seeing at the moment,” he added.

The shortage stems from a confluence of factors as carmakers, which shut plants during the COVID-19 pandemic last year, compete against the sprawling consumer electronics industry for chip supplies.

Consumers have stocked up on laptops, gaming consoles and other electronic products during the pandemic, leading to tighter inventory. They also bought more cars than industry officials expected last spring, further straining supplies.

Hou said that sales in his region, which excludes China, are booming, as companies and governments seek laptop computers to help people study and work from home.

“What is lacking is not the high end chips – it’s the ones people have for a long time not cared about.”

Taiwan: Dozens killed as train crashes and derails in tunnel

At least 41 people have died and up to 200 remain trapped after a train carrying nearly 500 people crashed and then derailed in a tunnel in Taiwan.

Dozens more have been injured, with rescuers trying to access several badly damaged carriages.

The eight-carriage train reportedly hit a construction vehicle that had slipped onto the tracks at the tunnel’s mouth.

The train, from the capital Taipei to Taitung, was carrying people travelling for a long-weekend annual holiday.

Many people may have been standing because the train was so full.

The 408 train is one of the fastest deployed on a network that is generally considered safe. It can reach speeds of 130km/h (80mph).

Taiwan rail crash site
image captionSome passengers exited on to the roof to escape

The latest reports from the National Fire Agency say 490 people were on the train, with 41 dead and more than 60 injured.

Some people at the back of the train were able to walk away unscathed, but 100 were rescued from the first four carriages and about 200 more remain trapped.

“It felt like there was a sudden violent jolt and I found myself falling to the floor,” one female survivor told Taiwan’s UDN. “We broke the window to climb to the roof of the train to get out.”

Another rescued woman said: “My whole body fell to the floor. I hit my head and it started bleeding.”

The crash took place at about 09:00 local time (01:00 GMT). Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen issued a statement saying “rescuing those trapped is our highest priority now”.

Local media reports say the train driver is among the dead.

Images show a large, yellow flatbed truck lying at the side of the tracks. A construction project has been under way near the north end of the tunnel.

It is not known how the vehicle slipped down the embankment.

Taiwan rail crash site
image captionThis image appears to show the yellow flat-bed truck at the side of the tracks

Other pictures online showed people walking along the tracks with their belongings as they were evacuated from less badly affected carriages. Other survivors were being carried away on stretchers with their necks in braces.

Many of those on the train are believed to have been travelling to celebrate the Tomb Sweeping festival – a time when people pay their respects to the dead by visiting the graves of friends and family, sprucing them up and making offerings to their spirits.

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Friday’s crash could be the island’s worst rail disaster in decades. 

The last major train derailment in Taiwan was in 2018, which left 18 people dead.

The island’s worst crash in recent history was in 1991, when 30 passengers were killed and 112 injured after two trains collided.

Source: BBC