More than 3,000 residents in southern and eastern Taiwan were forced to evacuate early yesterday as Typhoon Nanmadol approached after battering the northern Philippines.
The storm, packing maximum sustained winds of 137kph and gusts of up to 173kph, was expected to make landfall in either Pingtung or Taitung county this afternoon, forecasters said.
The Central Emergency Operations Center said Hualien, Pingtung, Yilan and Taitung counties had issued evacuation orders in the morning. Both Hualien and Pingtung counties needed to evacuate more than 1,000 residents.
Nantou and Chiayi counties also evacuated residents in mountainous areas in the afternoon.
The Soil and Water Conservation Bureau said that 318 -mudslide-prone rivers in Yilan, Hualien, Taitung, Pingtung and Greater Kaohsiung were on yellow alert.
President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) urged government agencies to be more vigilant in taking precautions against the typhoon.
The government must remain on guard because judging from past experience, a slow-moving typhoon is likely to trigger more serious damage and casualties, Ma said at a briefing at the Central Emergency Operation Center, which is on watch for the typhoon.
With the medium-strength typhoon estimated to bring rainfall of up to 1,500mm, Ma said the government should make sufficient preparations, such as evacuating residents in dangerous areas and deploying military personnel for rescue work if a disaster occurs.
The Ministry of National Defense mobilized more than 35,000 officers and soldiers to be ready to pitch in with rescue, evacuation and disaster-prevention assistance.
A total of 35,197 uniformed men and women were being deployed in areas forecast to be hit hardest by Nanmadol.
Work as normal, schools closed
Taipei, New Taipei City, Taoyuan, Keelung, Hsinchu County, Chiayi County, Changhua County, Nantou County and Greater Taichung.
Offices and schools closed
Greater Tainan, Greater Kaohsiung, Pingtung County, Yilan County, Hualien County and Taitung County.
The soldiers will be equipped with portable power generators, water pumps, amphibious assault vehicles, tanks, aircraft and boats and rafts to help people affected by the storm, the ministry said.
The first 500 soldiers were dispatched to Nantou, Taitung, Hualien, Chiayi and Pingtung counties, and Greater Kaohsiung, the ministry said.
In all, 160 vehicles were deployed at 42 locations in the south to move people out of vulnerable areas.
The ministry said it had dispatched two C-130 transport aircraft to rescue 140 stranded tourists on the outlying island of Matsu. All were safely returned to Taiwan proper.
While Nanmadol has yet to make landfall, the typhoon’s circumfluence brought substantial amounts of rain to eastern Taiwan.
As of 7:40pm, statistics from the Central Weather Bureau showed that Sioulin Township (秀林) in Hualien had received the highest precipitation so far at 319mm. It was followed by Wanrong Township (萬榮) in Hualien and Hengchun Township (恆春) in Pingtung, with accumulated rainfall of 308mm and 306.5mm respectively.
The bureau estimated that accumulated rainfall in mountainous areas in Hualien could surpass 1,500mm. Rainfall in Yilan and Pingtung could also reach 1,100mm and 1,200mm respectively, it said.
Fearing heavy rain could trigger landslides, several government agencies implemented preventive measures. The Directorate-General of Highways closed the entire Suhua Highway at 6pm because the area is prone to landslides during typhoon season. It also closed the section between Dayuling (大禹嶺) and Taroko on the Central Cross-Island Highway.
The Taiwan Railway Administration suspended services on the South Link Line, with the last train departing from Taitung at 5:40pm. It also stopped train services between Hualien and Taitung after 8:58pm. The Alishan Forest Park was also closed yesterday morning.