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Typhoon Jelawat Looms Off Taiwan, Bound for Disputed Islands

Sept. 28 (Bloomberg) -- Taiwan warned of floods and landslides as the second super typhoon in two weeks ripped through the East China Sea and headed for islands where Chinese and Japanese vessels are in a territorial standoff.

With gusts as fast as 110 knots (127 miles or 204 kilometers an hour), Super Typhoon Jelawat was 380 kilometers east of Kaohsiung, Taiwan, at 5 a.m. today, the Hong Kong Observatory said. The storm is expected to move north at about 14 kilometers in the seas east of Taiwan.

Jelawat follows Sanba, which lashed southern Japan and South Korea earlier this month, grounding aircraft and disrupting electricity. Jelawat is forecast to travel northeast away from Taiwan from today and may cross islands claimed by China, Japan and Taiwan on a path toward the southern coast of Japan, according to the U.S Joint Typhoon Warning Center.

The Japanese Coast Guard declined to comment on the movement of ships around the islands situated northeast of Taiwan, known as Senkaku in Japanese and Diaoyu in Chinese, according to a spokesman who cited “security reasons.” A three-way contest over the oil and gas-rich area erupted after Japan reached a deal to buy the islands from a private Japanese owner.

‘Catastrophic Damage’

More than 50 Taiwanese fishing boats and 12 patrol vessels left waters surrounding the islands on Sept. 25 after Japanese ships fired water cannons at them, Taiwan’s Coast Guard Administration said in a statement.

China’s Foreign Ministry referred questions to the government fisheries agency when asked about bad weather plans for the Diaoyu Islands at a scheduled press briefing yesterday. An official with the Ministry of Agriculture couldn’t immediately comment and declined to be identified.

A super typhoon has winds of at least 185 kilometers per hour, according to the Hong Kong Observatory. The storm is a category 4, the second-strongest on the five-level Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale, with winds between 209 and 251 kilometers per hour. A storm of that strength can cause “catastrophic damage” to homes, trees and power lines, according to the U.S. National Hurricane Center.

To contact the reporters on this story: Adela Lin in Taipei at alin95@bloomberg.net; Tim Culpan in Taipei at tculpan1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Janet Ong at jong3@bloomberg.net

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