Typhoon pounds Taiwan, threatens China

At least one person was killed and 34 injured on Monday as Typhoon Haitang pounded Taiwan, forcing airports and financial markets to shut, while south-east China evacuated more than half a million people as it braced for the storm.

The powerful storm weakened after making landfall at the north-eastern county of Ilan at about 2.50pm local time. It was expected to move off the island by midnight, the Central Weather Bureau said.

Haitang’s gusting winds of up to 227kph wreaked havoc across Taiwan as the government warned of possible flash floods and landslides.

 

A 65-year-old man was killed by a falling rock in the central town of Hoping while a 51-year-old man was missing after being washed away by floods while fishing at Shenkeng town outside Taipei, said the National Fire Agency, which coordinated national rescue missions.

Another 34 people were injured in storm-related accidents.

Two bodies—both women—were found separately at Taipei and the northern city of Taoyuan but the agency said it was not clear if the deaths were caused by the typhoon.

The storm left more than 1,36-million households without power and crops were severely damaged.

Haitang was centred about 40km south-southwest of the northern city of Hsinchu at 1pm GMT and heading towards south-east China where authorities evacuated more than 660 000 people in the coastal provinces of Zhejiang and Fujian.

“Haitang is the most powerful typhoon to hit Taiwan over the past five years. Residents must be vigilant,” said a spokesperson for the Central Weather Bureau.

A spokesperson for the Civil Aeronautics Administration said 110 international flights from Chiang Kai-shek airport in the north of the island were cancelled.
Up to 400 domestic flights were also cancelled.

A Hong Kong Airport Authority spokesperson confirmed that all flights to and from Taiwan had been cancelled.

Railway traffic was suspended in the morning but partially restored later while some highways were blocked by landslides touched off by torrential rains.

Television footage showed giant waves whipped up by the typhoon pounding the shore of Hualien. Flooding also threatened Yihsin village in the northern county of Hsinchu, forcing the evacuation of residents.

About 1 500 people in northern Taiwan were evacuated from remote mountainous villages by local governments and placed in temporary shelters, said the National Fire Agency.

In the capital, Taipei, anxious residents piled sandbags around their houses as they braced for the typhoon, while thousands of fishing vessels sought shelter in harbours.

About 4 800 mainland Chinese fishermen took shelter in Taiwanese ports.

The management of the 508m Taipei 101, the world’s tallest skyscraper, put staff on alert as the building faced its most powerful typhoon since it was inaugurated in December last year.

The building is armed with a wind damper on the 88th floor, a 680-tonne steel ball designed to reduce the impact of strong winds.

South-east China, which faces Taiwan, was bracing for the impact of the typhoon, expected to hit on Tuesday.

In preparation, 539 000 people have been moved to safe areas in Fujian province, including more than 300 000 fishermen whose boats were ordered back to port, the Fujian Flood Relief Office said on its website.

In neighbouring Zhejiang, 122 000 people have been evacuated, including 77 000 from the ancient city of Wenzhou, which is expected to be one of the worst-hit areas.

Authorities have arranged round-the-clock patrols at reservoirs and embankments, fearing landslides and floods.

According to weather reports, gale-force winds were already sweeping over the coastal areas of northern and central Fujian.—AFP

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