The Sun (Malaysia)

Typhoon makes landfall in Taiwan

Thousands evacuated, hundreds of flights cancelled and 21,000 households without power


made landfall on eastern Taiwan yesterday, unleashing torrential downpours, whipping winds and plunging thousands of households into darkness as the first major storm to directly hit the island in four years.

Nearly 4,000 people were evacuated from high-risk areas, hundreds of flights cancelled and businesses closed in preparatio­n for the storm.

Taiwan’s Central Weather Bureau said in a press conference the typhoon was “at our doorstep” and by 3.40pm confirmed to AFP it had made landfall in coastal Taitung, a mountainou­s county in lesser-populated eastern Taiwan.

Residents hunkered down indoors in the dark, staying away from windows as strong gusts of wind sent toppled trees and dislodged water tanks flying in the air, according to an AFP reporter.

“I think this time it is serious,” said retired mechanic Chang Jhi-ming, 58, in Taitung.

“This is just beginning, the wind is just coming in and you can see trees toppling already.”

The typhoon has gathered speed since yesterday, and at 3pm was packing sustained winds of 54kph.

“Rain and wind will be most intense and its impact will be most obvious during this period” after landfall, said a spokesman with the weather bureau, adding that the typhoon will move into the Taiwan Strait this evening.

Across the island, more than 21,000 households lost power, and while most resumed by mid-afternoon, about 9,000 were still without electricit­y when Haikui hit – including in Taitung.

Authoritie­s have reported two minor injuries in Hualien county – a mountainou­s region which was issued a warning for flash floods – after a fallen tree hit a car.

The last major storm to hit Taiwan was Typhoon Bailu in 2019, which left one person dead.

Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen said Haikui would be the first in four years to cross the Central Mountain Range running north to south of the island – a path that could lead to landslides in surroundin­g counties.

“I remind the people to make preparatio­ns for the typhoon and watch out for your safety, avoid going out or any dangerous activities.”

The streets in Hualien were deserted yesterday, battered by unrelentin­g rain, while a fishing harbour in northeaste­rn coastal Yilan county saw towering waves slam against the shore.

In Taitung, before Haikui landed, rippedup trees already littered the streets and street signs swayed under the strong winds.

The military had mobilised soldiers and equipment – such as amphibious vehicles and inflatable rubber boats – around the parts of Taiwan where Haikui is expected to have the heaviest impact.

But it is expected to be less severe than Typhoon Saola, which bypassed Taiwan but triggered the highest threat level in nearby Hong Kong and southern China before it weakened into a tropical storm by Saturday.

 ?? Typhoon Saola in Tseung Kwan O in Hong Kong. – AFPPIC ?? Residents making their way past fallen trees in the aftermath of
Typhoon Saola in Tseung Kwan O in Hong Kong. – AFPPIC Residents making their way past fallen trees in the aftermath of

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