World

Taiwan braces itself for second storm

After Typhoon Nesat, tropical storm Haitang is expected to land

TAIPEI: Taiwan braced itself for its second storm in two days yesterday after Typhoon Nesat battered the island, leaving at least 103 injured while causing flooding and widespread power outages on Saturday.

Much of Taiwan came to a standstill on Saturday after Nesat made landfall in eastern Yilan county, whipping up massive waves taller than 15m and dumping up to 58cm of rain in the southern region of Pingtung.

While Nesat weakened and moved from Taiwan, another tropical storm, Haitang, churned towards the south of the island and was expected to make landfall yesterday evening, said the Central Weather Bureau.

Torrential rains were anticipated in Pingtung, Chiayi, Penghu and Tainan as well as the mountainous areas in Kaohsiung and Taitung. China's Kinmen and Matsu were also forecast to have heavy rain.

The weather authorities warned of possible geological disasters in those areas.

It is the first time in 50 years that Taiwan has issued warnings for two typhoons.

"Haitang is gaining some strength and it is expected to bring heavy rains to central and southern Taiwan from tonight to tomorrow," forecaster Lin Ting-i said.

EVACUATED

The storm was 170km south-west of Eluanbi, the southernmost tip of the island around noon yesterday.

More than 10,000 people had to be evacuated on Saturday, with 5,338 soldiers deployed for disaster relief.

Most train services were suspended and more than 300 domestic and international flights cancelled or delayed.

At least 103 people were injured, mostly by falling objects or in car accidents while some slipped in the bad weather, according to the central emergency operation centre.

On Saturday, nearly half a million households were without electricity as Nesat pounded the island with downpours and winds of up to 180kmh.

Around 140,000 households were still without power yesterday, though rail services had mostly resumed.

Taiwan's second largest airline, EVA Air, said it had cancelled around 50 flights after more than 500 flight attendants took typhoon days off, affecting around 30,000 passengers.

In China's south-east Fujian province, authorities issued the highest red typhoon alert over Nesat as evacuations begin in certain parts of the province.

Nesat, the ninth typhoon of the year, made landfall in Fujian yesterday morning.

It packed maximum winds of up to 33m a second at its centre and landed at coastal Fuqing City, according to local meteorological authorities.

The government in Fuqing has ordered officials and volunteers to step up patrols to ensure the safety of the residents as heavy rain pounded the city. - AFP

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