Typhoon batters southern Taiwan with wind, rain
TAIPEI, Taiwan (AP) — A powerful typhoon made landfall in southern Taiwan before dawn Friday, toppling trees and dumping torrential rain that flooded farmlands but sparing the island's heavily populated areas before roaring out to sea.
No casualties from Typhoon Tembin were immediately reported. Authorities had taken precautions, evacuating more than 3,000 people from mountainous, landslide-prone areas of Taiwan a day ahead of the storm.
The Central Weather Bureau said Tembin landed in coastal Pingtung County at 5 a.m. (2100 GMT), packing winds of 155 kilometers (96 miles) per hour, before blowing out to the Taiwan Strait 2 1/2 hours later.
Authorities in Pingtung reported that the town of Hengchun had been hit by heavy flooding, with waters reaching 3 meters (9 feet) high in some places.
But the impact of the storm in the heavily populated areas of northern Taiwan was extremely limited. Businesses and schools in Taipei were operating normally, and operations at the capital's two airports were unaffected.
Mindful of a devastating typhoon three years ago that took 700 lives, Taiwan's military readied thousands of soldiers equipped with rubber boats and amphibious vehicles to help with relief efforts in areas impacted by Tembin's fury.
Authorities also ordered workers home in the eastern city of Hualien, where all flights were canceled. Schools were closed in several areas in the southeast.
Farmers urgently harvested crops ahead of the storm's arrival, and many homes and businesses in eastern Taiwan boarded up their windows. Outdoor events to mark a special Taiwanese Valentine's Day on Thursday were canceled.
Another typhoon may threaten southern Japan over the weekend. Typhoon Bolaven has winds of 144 kph (89 mph) and may intensify, the Japan Meteorological Agency said. The current forecast has the typhoon affecting southern islands, including Okinawa, on Sunday.