Sat, Aug 08, 2009 - Page 1 News List

Typhoon Morakot wallops Taiwan

DISASTER AVERTEDReservoirs around the nation that had neared urgently low levels earlier in the week were almost full to capacity after receiving yesterday’s rain

By Shelley Shan  /  STAFF REPORTER, WITH AGENCIES

The archway to the Taitien Temple in Kaohsiung City rests against telephone poles yesterday. The archway was blown over by strong winds, but did not fall onto nearby cars because of the poles.

PHOTO: CHANG CHUNG-YI, TAIPEI TIMES

Typhoon Morakot surged toward Taiwan yesterday, closing offices and schools, disrupting transportation and confining millions of residents to their homes as its violent western fringe lashed the nation with high winds and heavy rain.

However, at press time many local governments declared today a work day, not a typhoon day. Keelung and Hsinchu cities, Taoyuan, Hsinchu, Miaoli, Ilan, Hualien, Taitung, Penghu and Kinmen counties all declared today a work day while remaining local governments declared today a typhoon day, canceling work and classes. Taipei City and county changed their minds late last night and declared a typhoon day for today.

More than 605,262 households around the country experienced power outages as a result of the typhoon, including 118,612 households in Taichung.

The typhoon also forced the evacuation of more than 1,000 people in mountainous areas in Hsinchu and Taoyuan counties yesterday as a precaution.

Authorities canceled many flights from Taipei to Asian destinations and all domestic flights. Those scheduled to travel today are advised to check with airlines or transportation service operators to see if service is available today. The Taiwan Railway Administration also canceled all express train services yesterday, whereas the Taiwan High Speed Rail suspended trains departing after 10am yesterday.

The Ministry of Transportation and Communications also reported road damage caused by the typhoon. Four road sections — one provincial highway, two county roads and one township road — remained inaccessible as of 6pm yesterday.

Two ships registered in Cambodia and Indonesia were stranded near the coast of Pingtung yesterday after they lost power. While the crew members of the Cambodian ship were all rescued, the Coast Guard Administration and Kaohsiung Fire Department were trying to rescue the 15 crew members on the Indonesian ship at press time.

In Keelung’s Badouzih (八斗子) area, huge waves pummeled the rocky coastline and dozens of fishing vessels floated behind a breakwater, waiting for the storm to pass.

In a nearby dormitory some 200 Chinese fishermen played mahjong, snacked on instant noodles and watched kung fu movies as Taiwanese coast guard officials watched warily in the background. Badouzih traditionally provides refuge for fishermen from China caught on the high seas when 衫ajor storms approach.

As of 9:15pm, Morakot was moving northwesterly at 11kph, with its center 60km off the southeast coast of Hualien County. The storm was packing maximum sustained winds of 144kph, the Central Weather Bureau (CWB) said.

The CWB said Morakot slowed as it approached the nation’s east coast. As the Pacific high air pressure guiding Morakot’s movement weakened, the typhoon appeared to linger in one place, the CWB said.

“If the Pacific high air pressure continues to weaken, the typhoon will move even more slowly,” said Lin Hsiu-wen (林秀雯), deputy director of the bureau’s weather forecast center.

The bureau forecast that the center of the typhoon would probably make landfall today, adding that it may leave the northwest coast in the afternoon.

The bureau warned of strong winds and torrential rain in 要orthern Taiwan and cautioned residents in mountainous areas to be aware of the possibility of landslides.

Minor landslides were reported in other areas of northern Taiwan yesterday but no casualties were recorded.

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