Mon, Jul 28, 2008 - Page 1 News List

Fung-wong closes offices and schools

BRACED FOR A POUNDING Flights, trains and ferries were canceled as the vice premier held meetings at the Disaster Prevention and Protection Center yesterday



Workers set up sandbag barriers while fishing boats returned to port as the nation braced for a pounding from Typhoon Fung-wong, which forecasters said yesterday was picking up momentum.

“Starting from tonight [yesterday], Taiwan will be enveloped in Fung-wong’s wind and rain until the morning of the 29th [tomorrow], with an expected peak to occur between the evening of the 27th [Sunday] and the morning of the 28th [today],” deputy director of the Central Weather Bureau’s weather forecast center Lin Hsiu-wen (林秀雯) said yesterday.

The bureau predicted Typhoon Fung-wong, which means “Phoenix” in Cantonese, is expected to make landfall in Hualien County this morning.

With both land and sea warnings issued against the approaching typhoon, the bureau called for the public to be on heightened alert against possible landslides and flash floods in mountainous areas and sudden rises in sea level in low-lying coastal areas.

As of 9:15pm yesterday, the bureau said Fung-wong was 200km southeast of Hualien County. With a radius of 220km, it was measured packing maximum sustained winds of up to 155kph, with gusts of up to 191kph, and was traveling west-north-west at a speed of 17kph.

As eastern Taiwan was expected to be the region first affected by the typhoon, the bureau predicted that mountainous areas in Ilan and Hualien would receive between 700mm and 900mm of rainfall.

Southern Taiwan would similarly get about 700mm to 900mm of rain, Lin said, adding that central cities, such as Chiayi, are expected to see 500mm to 600mm of rain.

In terms of impact on transportation, ferry services between Kaohsiung and Penghu were suspended yesterday.

The Taiwan Railways Administration (TRA) said that starting at 8pm yesterday, eastbound trains — including Taipei to Hualien, Taipei to Pingtung and Kaohsiung to Taitung — and all trains running on the eastern line would be canceled. All domestic flights to and from Penghu, Hualien and Taitung airports today have been canceled. People who have made any domestic or international flight booking were advised to check with their airlines on whether the flight has been canceled.

At press time, all of the nation’s county and city governmentshad declared no work and no school today except for Matzu and Kinmen. The financial markets will also be closed today.

Meanwhile, the military set up a natural disaster response command center yesterday morning, calling for all military units to be prepared for possible damage and to help civilians if necessary.

Vice Premier Paul Chiu (邱正雄) was busy hosting meetings at the National Disaster Prevention and Protection Center yesterday morning, while Premier Liu Chao-shiuan (劉兆玄) took several trips to inspect Taipei County’s flood prevention centers in preparation for the approaching typhoon.

Almost all cities and counties around the nation had activated their emergency response mechanisms yesterday as the typhoon approached.

In Taipei, Mayor Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌) inspected flood-prone areas, including Shilin (士林) and Beitou (北投), yesterday and promised that “the city would not suffer from flooding as long as the city’s rainfall did not reach 78mm per hour.”

The Taipei Agricultural Products Marketing Co said the average price of vegetables increased 15 percent yesterday in expectation of the approach of the storm.

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