Taiwan braces for super typhoon Meranti

Fishing boats moored in a shelter at Tungkang harbour in southern Pingtung county as typhoon Meranti approaches south-east of Taiwan on Sept 13, 2016.
Fishing boats moored in a shelter at Tungkang harbour in southern Pingtung county as typhoon Meranti approaches south-east of Taiwan on Sept 13, 2016.PHOTO: AFP

TAIPEI (AFP) - Taiwan braced for approaching super typhoon Meranti on Tuesday (Sept 13) , evacuating nearly 1,800 tourists from offshore islands and closing some schools and offices.

Meranti is expected to skirt past the island's southern tip, bringing torrential rain and powerful winds from late Tuesday, the Central Weather Bureau said.

"Typhoon Meranti is maintaining its strength and speed, and its impact will be the strongest on Wednesday and early Thursday," said forecaster Hung Jen-sheng.

The super typhoon will likely dampen celebrations and disrupt traffic during the four-day Mid-autumn Festival holiday period starting Thursday, a major holiday in Taiwan, Hong Kong and China.

The authorities have evacuated nearly 1,800 visitors from the popular tourist spots of Green Island and Orchid Island and suspended ferry services to the two destinations on Tuesday and Wednesday, local officials said.

Offices and schools were shut down in Orchid Island from Tuesday afternoon while the Defence Ministry said it had ordered around 33,000 soldiers to be on standby.

Three people were killed and hundreds were injured when super typhoon Nepartak pounded Taiwan in July with the strongest winds in over a century.