Thu, Aug 10, 2006 - Page 1 News List

Typhoon Saomai menaces Taiwan

SKIRTING The dangerous typhoon was expected to spare Taiwan most of its fury, but outlying islands near China were warned to brace as Saomai nears

By Shelley Shan  /  STAFF REPORTER

The Central Weather Bureau yesterday issued sea and land warnings for Typhoon Saomai, which last night was steering between Taiwan and Okinawa with an expected landfall in China.

However, the southern rim of this storm was expected to begin moving over the northeastern part of Taiwan early this morning. People in Keelung, Ilan, Taipei, Taoyuan, Hsinchu and Miaoli were warned to expect heavy rain and strong winds, especially in northern mountainous areas.

Matsu and other outlying islands near the Chinese coast were more likely to be affected by even stronger winds, however, and a slight southerly change in direction could send the eye bearing down on the area, based on the path of the storm predicted by both the bureau and the US Navy's Joint Typhoon Warning Center.

At press time no cities or counties had declared a typhoon day.

Boats operating in the Taiwan Strait and along the northeast and northwest coasts were advised to monitor the latest movements of the storm.

At 9:15pm yesterday, Saomai's eye was 330km east of Keelung. It was moving west-northwest at a speed of 28kph and packing sustained winds of 173kph and gusts of 209kph. The Joint Typhoon Warning Center, however, was last night predicting gusts near the eye of up to 270kph as the storm moves past Taiwan.

Saomai was expected to move away from Taiwan by 2pm today.

China Airlines announced yesterday that all flights to Okinawa today had been canceled. It will hold a meeting today to determine whether other international flights would be affected.

Far Eastern Air Transport said that this morning's flight to Cheju Island in South Korea has been canceled. All domestic flights leaving Taipei's Songshan Airport before 3pm today have been canceled.

Ferries operating between Taiwan and Penghu, Green Island and Matsu, as well as "small three links" services to China, have been canceled.

At press time, no train services had been affected.

The bureau yesterday also lifted its sea and land alerts for Tropical Storm Bopha. The storm's intensity had declined and its center had moved away from Taiwan and entered the Taiwan Strait yesterday morning. No serious damage was reported by the storm, which made landfall in southern Taitung County.

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