Taiwan is bracing for a direct hit by Typhoon Soulik early tomorrow, with officials evacuating people at risk of landslides and airlines canceling dozens of flights due to expected high winds.
Soulik may make landfall in northeastern Yilan or eastern Hualien county early morning tomorrow and bring cumulative rain of as much as 1,000 millimeters (39 inches) in the island’s northern and central mountains today and tomorrow, the Central Weather Bureau said. President Ma Ying-jeou called on local governments and citizens to make preparations and be on alert for mudslides, according to a statement from his office today.
Damage from Taiwan’s first typhoon of the year may be exacerbated by loose soil following large earthquakes in March and June, the Central Emergency Operations Center said in a statement. The bureau tracked eight typhoons last year including Saola, which killed seven people and destroyed NT$1.2 billion ($40 million) of agricultural produce. Morakot in 2009 killed more than 600 people and brought record rainfall.
Authorities evacuated 1,158 people mainly in eastern Hualien county, northern Hsinchu county, and New Taipei City, National Fire Agency Deputy Director Chen Wen-long said today.
“We fear heavy rains will cause mudslides that will block roads, so we’re clearing people out as a precaution,” Cheng said by phone.
The highways department will close 12 roads across the island by the end of today, the Directorate General of Highways said in an e-mailed statement.
Taiwan authorities issued a land warning and advised people to avoid outdoor activities as Typhoon Soulik continues its approach from the east. China’s National Marine Environmental Forecasting Center raised a wave warning to orange, the second-highest of four levels, in the East China Sea, the Taiwan Strait and waters near Zhejiang and Fujian provinces, Xinhua reported.
As of 4 p.m., Soulik’s winds gusted as fast as 209 kilometers (130 miles) per hour and the eye of the storm was 280 kilometers off Taiwan’s northeastern coast moving toward land at a speed of 23 kilometers per hour, the weather bureau said on its website.
Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd. (293) canceled 14 flights between Hong Kong and Taipei from 9 p.m. today to 2 p.m. tomorrow, according to a statement today. The airline will waive rebooking and rerouting charges for people affected. Taiwan’s largest carrier China Airlines Ltd. (2610) canceled 12 flights scheduled for today, according to a statement on its website.
Far Eastern Air Transport Corp. canceled four flights between Taiwan and China and five domestic flights scheduled for tomorrow, according to an e-mailed company statement.
A total of 75 inbound and outbound flights from northern Taiwan had been canceled as of 4 p.m. today, according to a statement from Taoyuan International Airport Corp. Ltd.
An average of seven typhoons are monitored by Taiwan authorities every year, with the greatest frequency between the months of July and September, according to bureau data.
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