Thursday, July 7, 2016

Taiwan cancels flights as super typhoon bears down

Taiwan cancelled dozens of flights and shut schools and offices Thursday as the island braced for a direct hit from Super Typhoon Nepartak, the first major tropical storm of the season.

The typhoon was packing gusts of up to 245 kilometres an hour as it rumbled towards the eastern county of Hualien, where it is due to make landfall early Friday, according to Taiwan’s Central Weather Bureau.



The storm is expected to dump torrential rain on the whole island with mountainous areas forecast to be deluged with up to 500 millimetres, potentially triggering landslides that have in the past claimed hundreds of lives.

More than 35,000 soldiers are on standby to help with evacuations and disaster relief, while 90 shelters have been set up.

Most domestic flights were grounded while 59 international flights would be affected, Taipei’s two main airports said.

The popular tourist spots of Green Island and Orchid Island, which have already evacuated thousands of visitors since Tuesday, announced the closure of all schools and offices on Thursday.

Conditions are expected to deteriorate significantly before the storm hits, the weather bureau said.

“Its storm circle is gradually approaching the waters off southeastern Taiwan, posing a threat to all regions and Penghu,” it added.

The storm had a radius of 200 kilometres and was moving west-northwest at a speed of 14 kilometres an hour.

The storm is forecast to hit southern China as a typhoon after battering Taiwan.

Super typhoon Dujuan killed three people and left more than 300 injured in Taiwan last year, leaving a trail of destruction in its wake.

In 2009, Typhoon Morakot devastated the island, killing more than 600 people, most of them buried in huge landslides in the south.

Powerful typhoon blows off Philippines

Philippine forecasters warned fishing boats not to venture out to sea and commercial ships to watch out for big waves Thursday as a powerful typhoon roared off the country’s northeastern coast.

The fast-moving Typhoon Nepartak would not likely hit land but would intensify seasonal southwest monsoon rains, which could spark thunderstorms and flash floods on the main northern Luzon island, said government forecaster Aldzar Aurelio. Some domestic flights have been canceled in the region.

Nepartak was blowing over the Philippine Sea about 235 kilometers northeast of Batanes province with sustained winds of 220 kilometers per hour and gusts of 255 kph, he said.

Storm alerts have been raised in Batanes, about 700 kilometers north of Manila, and outlying islands in a sparsely-populated region in the country’s northern tip.

Nepartak, a Micronesian word for a local warrior, could still gain strength and would start to blow away from the Philippines on Friday and head toward Taiwan, he said.

One of the world’s most disaster-prone countries, the Philippines is lashed by 18 to 21 storms and typhoons, mostly from the Pacific, each year.

In November 2013, Typhoon Haiyan struck the central Philippines with ferocious power, leaving more than 7,300 people dead and missing and displacing more than 5 million others after leveling entire villages.

SOURCE: gulfnews

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