Taiwan hit by strong typhoon heading next to China | world | Hindustan Times
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Taiwan hit by strong typhoon heading next to China

A powerful typhoon made a direct hit on Taiwan on Sunday, sending residents scurrying for cover and rescue crews rushing to evacuate people in mountainous regions vulnerable to landslides.

world Updated: Sep 19, 2010 10:03 IST

A powerful typhoon made a direct hit on Taiwan on Sunday, sending residents scurrying for cover and rescue crews rushing to evacuate people in mountainous regions vulnerable to landslides.

Typhoon Fanapi, the first major storm to strike the island this year, made landfall in the eastern city of Hualien at 8:40 a.m. (0040 GMT), packing winds of 102 mph (162 kilometer/h) and churning its way across island at a speed of 12 mph (20 kilometer/h), the Central Weather Bureau said.

On Saturday, Interior Minister Chiang Yoo-hoo ordered authorities to remove villagers from regions prone to landslides, mindful that torrential rains were likely to cause massive subsidence on mountainsides, particularly in isolated areas of Taiwan's south. Last year some 700 people died as Typhoon Market battered the island, many when a cascading mountain buried a village in rural Kaohsiung county.

In some areas of eastern Taiwan, up to 11.8 inches (300 millimeters) of rain had already fallen by early Sunday morning, when Fanapi reached land.

Officials said tourists vacated hotels in Hualien on Saturday, while residents boarded up windows and piled sandbags at their doors.

Rail services were suspended throughout the island and Taiwan's China Airlines canceled international flights from Kaohsiung, the second largest city.

China's National Meteorological Center said Fanapi could be the strongest the country has seen this season. It was expected to hit China's eastern provinces of Guangdong and Fujian on Sunday night or Monday morning.

Fanapi would be the 11th typhoon to hit China this year. Seasonal flooding in China has been the worst in a decade.