Flights cancelled as typhoon heads for Taiwan

Flights cancelled as typhoon heads for Taiwan
Enterprising residents transport commuters through a flooded street after overnight rains brought about by tropical depression "Talim", or local name Maring, inundated low-lying areas in Bacoor township, Cavite province, south of Manila, Philippines. Photo: AP

Flights cancelled as typhoon heads for Taiwan

TAIPEI — Taiwan issued a warning to ships and airlines cancelled some flights yesterday as the island braced for Typhoon Talim, which was expected to hit cities including the capital Taipei, before hurtling towards China potentially as a super typhoon.

Talim was expected to gain in strength as it sweeps towards Taiwan’s northern cities, lashing them with strong wind and heavy rain, the Central Weather Bureau said.

The brunt of the storm was expected to be felt late yesterday and today, when it was forecast to slam into the north and north-east with maximum sustained wind speeds of 137kmh and gusts of up to 173kmh, the bureau said.

“Typhoon Talim has been changing course and is not entirely predictable. It was expected to hit Taiwan directly, but its trajectory has altered further northward and eastward,” said Premier William Lai.

“But at this point our emergency operation centre has not lowered its level of alert,” he added. It had not yet been decided whether the Taiwan government would close financial markets, companies and schools today.

The warning to ships is expected to be lifted this evening, after it moves towards Japan. “Taiwan and eastern China will receive glancing blows from Talim as it turns north and then north-east,” AccuWeather Meteorologist Adam Douty said

China Airlines and EVA Airways, Taiwan’s two largest carriers, cancelled some international flights yesterday. At least five flights from Singapore to Taiwan were affected.

Formosa Petrochemical Corp, Taiwan’s second-biggest oil supplier, said it had prepared to close its supply port if necessary.

Typhoons are a seasonal routine for Taiwan, but the island has stepped up preparations since Typhoon Morakat in 2009. Morakat was the deadliest typhoon to hit the island in recorded history, killing close to 700 people, mostly in landslides.

In mainland China, more than 200,000 people in Fujian and Zhejiang provinces have been evacuated, China’s official Xinhua news agency said.

As early as tonight, Talim could make landfall along Zhejiang’s northern coast as a strong typhoon, packing gusts of up to 173kmh, the China Meteorological Administration said. The agency maintained an orange warning — the second-highest in a four-tier colour-coded system for severe weather.

Talim could strengthen into a super typhoon with winds of 187kmh in the late afternoon today. The storm is expected to turn north-east towards Japan tomorrow while another heads towards southern China and Vietnam. Tropical Storm Doksuri is expected to intensify into a strong typhoon and brush past the southern coast of Hainan province late today or early tomorrow.

In face of the twin typhoons, provinces in their path have been on high alert for heavy rainfall, storm surges, flash floods and landslides. As many as half a million people may need to be evacuated if the storm intensifies, according to Chinese media reports.

Hainan has suspended trains in and out of the island province over the next few days, while ships and offshore workers have been told to seek shelter.

Hong Kong-based Cathay Pacific Airways said flights to and from Sanya, the southernmost city on Hainan island, may be affected tomorrow. AGENCIES