Taiwan shuts down as typhoon Megi strikes

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TAIPEI Updated map showing the forecast track of Typhoon Megi moving towards Taiwan Tuesday. AFP GRAPHIC

TAIPEI Updated map showing the forecast track of Typhoon Megi moving towards Taiwan Tuesday. AFP GRAPHIC

TAIPEI: Typhoon Megi made landfall in Taiwan Tuesday, the third storm to hit the island in two weeks, with thousands evacuated, schools and offices closed and hundreds of flights disrupted.

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More than 50 people were injured as the typhoon brought violent winds and torrential rain across the island throughout the morning before making landfall at 2:00 pm (0600 GMT).

The Central News Agency said a bus was bowled over by winds on a highway in the center of the island, injuring three Japanese tourists.

Billboards and scaffolding were torn down, and television footage showed waves surging past breakwaters in the northeastern county of Yilan and outlying Orchid Island.

Over 8,000 people have been evacuated from their homes and around 2,800 are in shelters, according to the Central Emergency Operation Center. At least two million households have lost power.

Four hundred international and domestic flights were cancelled as of Tuesday afternoon, and over 400 delayed. Most trains and ferries were halted.

In the capital Taipei, which was also lashed by downpours and winds, bus services and overground metro trains were suspended as some roads were flooded.

More than 900 millimeters (35 inches) of rain had fallen in mountainous areas of Yilan as of Tuesday afternoon, reports said.

The weather bureau said accumulated rainfall in mountainous areas could reach 1,300 millimeters before the storm moves on, increasing the risk of landslides.

“Typhoon Megi has maintained its strength after making landfall and will continue to bring strong winds and rains till tomorrow morning,” said forecaster Shang Ching-sheng.

At 0800 GMT Megi was 50 kilometers (31 miles) west of the eastern county of Hualien, packing gusts of up to 198 kilometers per hour.

It is moving at 16 kilometers an hour.

More than 35,000 soldiers are on standby to help with disaster relief.

Ahead of the storm, 3,700 tourists had been evacuated at the weekend from Orchid Island and Green Island.

Hualien and Taitung were first to be hit by the storm.

Those areas are still recovering from damage brought by Super Typhoon Meranti earlier this month — the strongest storm for 21 years to hit Taiwan.

Meranti, which left one dead in Taiwan before killing another 28 as it moved to eastern China, was followed closely by the smaller Typhoon Malakas.

AFP

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