Typhoon Sepat disrupted transportation nationwide yesterday, with airlines canceling 56 domestic flights scheduled to take off yesterday afternoon and evening.
The Taiwan Railway Administration also canceled some of its southbound trains operating along the west and east coasts yesterday afternoon. The Taiwan High Speed Railway Corp also announced that all services would be canceled from 7am to 6pm today.
Airline companies also announced yesterday that all the domestic flights had been canceled for today.
PHOTO: HSU MIN-JUNG, TAIPEI TIMES
China Airlines flights taking off from Kaohsiung before 2pm and four Cathay Pacific flights from Taipei for Hong Kong taking off before 9am have been canceled.
Flights scheduled to depart after 9am will either be postponed or canceled.
Mandarin Airlines flights bound for Ho Chi-Ming City leaving from Taichung and Kaohsiung, have been canceled and passengers are advised to check with the airlines for more information.
Boat departures for the nation's surrounding islands have been canceled since yesterday morning.
The Central Weather Bureau cautioned that stronger winds and more rain are expected today.
As of 8:30pm yesterday, the center of Sepat was 210km southeast of Taitung County and moving northwest at a speed of 18kph.
The maximum wind speed near the center of the typhoon was measured at 184kph. Its gusts could reach a maximum speed of 227kph.
The storm has a 250km radius, with a concentric eye-wall. It will likely make landfall early this morning, then move away from the island this afternoon.
By 2pm yesterday, the storm had already covered Lanyu (
The bureau warned the entire nation, including its surrounding islands, will be covered by the storm today.
The bureau also advised that loose objects should be securely fixed and warned against outdoor activities near the sea or rivers.
Residents in mountainous areas must be prepared for possible landslides, falling rocks, and mud flows, it said.
The bureau estimated that the rainfall in the mountainous areas of the east could exceed 1,000mm, while rainfall in the mountains in Kaohsiung and Pingtung Counties could reach 800mm.
As of press time, schools and government offices in all cities and counties nationwide except for Matzu County had announced that they would be closed today.
Taipei City yesterday announced it would allow roadside parking on red and yellow lines over the weekend, while reminding drivers that parking on the No. 26 Expressway and cross-county bridges is prohibited this year.
The city's Department of Transportation said it no longer allowed parking on the bridges because of safety concerns, since the policy had been blamed for accidents in the past, but said it would consider making certain bridges available in the event of serious flooding.
Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin (
"The Public Works Department is on standby in those areas to take immediate measures ... We will seek to prevent any disasters caused by human error," Hau said.
In response to Beitou residents' growing complaints about constant flooding during typhoon season, Hau said the flood-prevention work in Beitou would be completed at the end of this month, which is expected to solve the flooding problems in the area.
The city's disaster prevention center said Taipei should get less rain than southern Taiwan, but residents in low-lying areas should still guard against flooding.
The Parking Management Office told car owners who park at riverbank parking lots to pay attention to typhoon information and move their vehicles before the water gates are closed.
The parking information hotline is 02-2759-0666 ext. 6401.
The transportation department said buses would run during the typhoon unless the average wind speed reached 88kph.
Meanwhile, the city government announced the postponement of the Taipei Dadaocheng Fireworks and Music Festival, which was scheduled for tomorrow, until further notice.
A Council of Agriculture official said agricultural losses in the wake of tropical storms Pabuk and Wutip had exceeded NT$420.69 million (US$12.75 million) as of Thursday, with damaged assets increasing by NT$100 million per day.
The official said that large freezers used by markets and farm associations had 4,586 tonnes of vegetables in storage, including 2,693 tonnes of rootstock and 1,518 tonnes of leafy vegetables.
Leafy vegetables have showed the most obvious price surge, while prices of rootstock vegetables have remained roughly stable, the official said.
Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) caucus whip Hsu Shao-ping (徐少萍) yesterday blamed the government for the serious flooding in the south, criticizing it for not making good use of the budget earmarked for a flood-control plan.
When inspecting the flooding in Kaohsiung County on Wednesday, Premier Chang Chun-hsiung (
The river's flooding in the wake of torrential rain caused severe damage.
Hsu dismissed Chang's accusation, saying the budget for dredging the river had been included in the government's annual budget instead of the eight-year flood-control plan.
In response, Democratic Progressive Party caucus whip Wang Tuoh (
"The plan was drawn up in May 2005, but its budget didn't clear the legislature until June last year because of the pan-blue lawmakers boycott of the review," Wang said.
It's unreasonable to put all the blame on central government as it needs local governments' cooperation to carry out flood-prevention plans such as land expropriation, he said.
Additional reporting by Shih Hsiu-chuan and CNA
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