Dozens of people have been injured in Taiwan after typhoon Haikui moved across the island and unleashed torrential downpours, uprooted trees and forced thousands to evacuate in the region that has been left without electricity.
While there have been no reports of deaths or structural damage yet, at least 40 people were left injured from the falling debris in the first typhoon to directly hit Taiwan for the first time in four years, reported the BBC.
Packed with winds moving at a pace of 200km/h, the typhoon hit the island’s mountainous and sparsely populated area in the southeast before moving to the south and knocking down the power supply to almost 260,000 households, according to the economy ministry. By Monday, at least 10,000 homes were left without electricity, reported AFP.
More than 7,000 people were evacuated from areas where authorities feared the typhoon could trigger a landslide. Schools and businesses were also shut and a majority of domestic airlines cancelled.
Classes were cancelled and workers given the day off for a second day across southern, eastern and central regions, while capital Taipei received sporadic, gusty rain showers.
“I think this time it is serious,” Chang Jhi-ming, a 58-year-old retired mechanic in Taitung, told AFP. “This is just beginning. The wind is just coming in and you can see trees toppling already.”
The world’s largest contract chipmaker, Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing (TSMC), said its plants in Taiwan were operating normally and had not been affected by the storm.
Fire officials reported 116 injuries from the typhoon, but were still trying to ascertain if the death of a man found by a roadside in Taitung was linked to it.
Taiwan airlines cancelled 208 domestic flights, leaving just a handful scheduled, while ferry services to surrounding islands were suspended. International flights, with just 23 cancelled, suffered less disruption, the Civil Aeronautics Administration said.
Earlier, Taiwan’s president Tsai Ing-wen had warned people “to make preparations for the typhoon and watch out for your safety”.
“Avoid going out or any dangerous activities,” she said.
Haikui is much weaker than typhoon Saola, which hit Hong Kong and the southern Chinese province of Guangdong on Saturday.
By Monday, Haikui had entered the Taiwan Strait, heading for China, Taiwan’s weather authorities said, though it will continue to bring heavy rain across the island into the middle of the week.
The typhoon is expected to make landfall on the border between the Chinese provinces of Guangdong and Fujian, near the city of Shantou on Tuesday morning and weaken further, China’s weather forecast centre said.
Additional reporting by agencies