Taiwan evacuates tourists ahead of new typhoon

TAIPEI — Taiwan evacuated thousands of tourists from outlying islands yesterday and set up nearly 100 shelters across the island as it braced for its third typhoon in two weeks.

The east coast is still reeling from damage caused by Super Typhoon Meranti earlier this month — the strongest storm for 21 years to hit Taiwan — followed by Typhoon Malakas.

The same part of the island is in the firing line again from approaching Typhoon Megi, which is already bringing strong winds and waves.

It is due to make landfall on the east coast today and forecast to bring almost a metre of rain to some areas over three days.

Ferries to Taiwan’s Green Island and Orchid Island were halted yesterday after more than 3,700 visitors were evacuated over the weekend.

A 700-tonne crane was blown over yesterday at a harbour in the eastern area of Hualien. It crushed a nearby building but no one was injured.

More than 35,000 soldiers are on standby to help with disaster relief and 92 shelters are open for residents.

“The storm eye will be closest around noon tomorrow, affecting Taiwan the whole day,” Lin Chih-hui, a forecaster at Taiwan’s Central Weather Bureau, told AFP.

“There is still a chance it might strengthen,” she said.

Mountainous regions in the northeastern county of Yilan and Hualien — already hit by the previous storms — could be lashed by up to 900mm of rain through tomorrow, increasing the risk of landslides, the bureau said. — AFP

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