TAIPEI– At least six people were dead, four were missing and 102 were injured as of 5:30 p.m. after Typhoon Soudelor made landfall in eastern Taiwan’s Hualien County early Saturday, the Taiwan disaster operation center said.
The typhoon cut power supply for more than 3 million households as of 1 p.m., the biggest power outage from a typhoon in the island’s history, according to Taiwan Power Company.
The island’s meteorological agency said that a dozen cities and counties will experience extremely heavy precipitation of up to 350 mm or more in the next 24 hours, and the rest of the island could also see strong rainfall of 130 mm or more over the period. Some mountainous areas have even reported record accumulated rainfall of more than 1,000 mm.
Residents in central and southern Taiwan and mountainous areas have been warned of increasing winds and rainfall due to southwestern winds introduced by Typhoon Soudelor. The storm was centered 50 kilometers north-northeast of outlying Penghu County in the Taiwan Strait and moving at a speed of 18 km per hour in a northwesterly direction as of 3 p.m.
According to the agency, Soudelor is still packing maximum sustained winds of 137 kph, with gusts reaching 173 kph. Giant waves of 8 to 11 meters high were seen along the island’s eastern coast.
All offices and schools across the island were closed on Saturday. Department store chains in Taiwan announced they would suspend business for at least Saturday morning. Saturday is Father’s Day on the island and promoted as a shopping holiday.
High-speed rail lines and regular train networks have suspended services since early Friday afternoon. All airports on the island have also been closed, with returning flights forced to land in other cities, including Hong Kong and Osaka.
The center of Soudelor made landfall in Sioulin Township in eastern Taiwan’s Hualien County at 4:40 a.m., bringing with it strong gusts and torrential rain that derailed trains, blew motorbikes into the sky and filled cities with fallen trees and signboards.
Although the wind and rainfall subsided slightly in northern Taiwan after Soudelor moved into the Taiwan Strait late this morning, forecasters warned that wind gusts and extreme rainfall are expected in the central and southern parts of the island for the rest of the day. PNA/Xinhua