Fri, Aug 24, 2012 - Page 1 News List

Thousands evacuated as storm looms

GETTING READY:Hualien, Taitung and Pingtung counties and Greater Kaohsiung have canceled work and classes, as forecasters warned of heavy rains and mudslides

AFP and CNA, TAIPEI

Chinese tourists walk near the coast of Hualien, eastern Taiwan yesterday. Taiwan evacuated more than 3,000 people as Typhoon Tembin bore down, threatening powerful winds and torrential rains that authorities warned could trigger landslides.

Photo: AFP

More than 3,000 people were evacuated yesterday ahead of Typhoon Tembin, as the Central Weather Bureau warned it would bring torrential rains and trigger mudslides in the east.

According to the bureau, the impact of Tembin is likely to extend to central and southern Taiwan from today, when the typhoon might make landfall in southeastern Taiwan.

Accumulated rainfall through the weekend is expected to reach between 600mm and 1,000mm nationwide, forecasters said.

As of 5:30pm, Tembin was 180km east of Taitung County, moving at 10kph in a westward direction.

The typhoon had picked up strength slightly and was packing sustained winds of 155kph, with gusts reaching 191kph, the bureau said.

Meanwhile, Typhoon Bolaven, which is situated east of Tembin, was moving at a speed of 15kph in a northwestward direction toward Taiwan.

The distance between the two storms had shrunk to about 1,200km, meaning there is an increased chance that they will interact with each other in the coming days, the bureau said.

A total of 3,400 people, nearly half of them from Hualien County, had been moved from their homes by early evening, the Central Emergency Operation Center said.

Young conscripts, many wearing facial masks against the sandstorms whipped up by the gusting winds, went from house to house and helped elderly residents, who left their homes willingly.

More than 1,800 Chinese fishermen recruited to work on Taiwanese fishing boats had been asked to seek safety in ports along the coast, with 800 of them placed in onshore shelters, the Council of Agriculture said.

All shipping between Taiwan and outlying islands was suspended, the center said.

Traffic on the highway stretching along Taiwan’s nation’s rugged east coast had been reduced to a trickle in the afternoon, as intermittent but violent rain formed a precursor for the typhoon likely to hit. As the waves along the nation’s Pacific coast grew in size in the course of the day, authorities sealed off the entrances of several beaches.

At press time, Hualien, Taitung and Pingtung counties and Greater Kaohsiung have declared today a typhoon day, canceling work and classes.

Additional reporting by staff writer

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