Taiwan reported its first death from Typhoon Saola as winds and rain lashed the island, knocking down trees, flooding homes and forcing authorities to shut financial markets, offices and schools today.
A policeman on patrol in New Taipei City fell into a river after suffering a heart attack and drowned, local broadcaster TVBS reported. Taiwan’s cabinet confirmed the death in a statement without providing more details.
Saola, which earlier killed 23 people in the Philippines, is the third storm to hit Taiwan this year. In 2009, Typhoon Morakot killed more than 600 people, prompting Premier Liu Chao- shiuan to resign and sending President Ma Ying-jeou’s approval rating to a record low of 16 percent.
At 12:15 p.m. local time today, Saola was centered 40 kilometers east-southeast off northeastern Taiwan’s Yilan county with winds blowing as fast as 155 kilometers (96.3 miles) per hour. The storm was moving north-northwest at 12 kilometers to 16 kilometers an hour, the weather bureau said.
In Taipei, the weather bureau reported 111 centimeters (43.7 inches) of rainfall from midnight to noon local time. TVBS showed images of cars crushed by fallen trees and residences inundated by flood water in New Taipei City.
The weather bureau also affirmed a landslide warning and the northeastern county of Yilan opened an evacuation center to take in local residents.
Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd, China Airlines Ltd, and China Eastern Airlines Corp. canceled some flights arriving at and departing Taipei for the rest of the day, according to the Taoyuan International Airport website.
In the Philippines, Saola forced more than 8,000 people into evacuation centers after the storm, also called Gener locally, lashed northern and central parts of the country, the government said July 31. The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council today raised the death toll from Saola to 23 from a earlier report of 12 deaths and said that another 21 people had been injured.
In Hong Kong, the typhoon left Wang Dan, an exiled 1989 Tiananmen Square dissident from China, stranded at the city’s airport, Radio Television Hong Kong reported. Wang was returning to Taiwan from the U.S. via Hong Kong when the storm prevented his flight from taking off, according the report.