Taiwan shut financial markets, offices and schools today as Typhoon Saola approached, lashing the island with winds and rain that knocked down trees and flooded homes.
The streets of Taipei’s central business district were empty this morning after the Central Weather Bureau said 35 centimeters (13.8 inches) of rain fell on the city from midnight to 8 a.m. local time. Saola, with winds blowing as fast as 155 kilometers (96.3 miles) per hour, was centered 20 kilometers east of Hualien county at 8:30 a.m. local time and moving north-northwest at 12 kilometers to 16 kilometers an hour, according to the weather authority.
Saola, which killed a dozen people in the Philippines, is the third storm to hit Taiwan this year. In 2009, Typhoon Morakot killed more than 600 people in Taiwan, prompting Premier Liu Chao-shiuan to resign and sending Taiwan President Ma Ying- jeou’s approval rating to a record low of 16 percent.
Local broadcaster TVBS showed images of cars crushed by fallen trees and residences flooded in New Taipei City. The weather bureau affirmed a landslide warning and the northeastern county of Yilan opened an evacuation center to take in local residents.
In the Philippines, Saola forced more than 8,000 people into evacuation centers after the storm, also called Gener locally, lashed northern and central parts of the country, the government said July 31. At least 12 people died and one was missing, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council said yesterday.
In Hong Kong, the typhoon left Wang Dan, an exiled 1989 Tiananmen Square dissident from China, stranded at the city’s airport, Radio Television Hong Kong reported. Wang was returning to Taiwan from the U.S. via Hong Kong when the storm prevented his flight from taking off, according the report.
To contact the reporters on this story: Chinmei Sung in Taipei at firstname.lastname@example.org; Andrea Wong in Taipei at email@example.com
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