Taiwan braces for Typhoon Fitow due to strike over the weekend

TAIPEI (AFP) - Taiwan on Saturday issued a warning over Typhoon Fitow as it approached the island's north with threats of torrential rains and powerful winds over the weekend.

Fitow, which has been upgraded from a tropical storm as it gained momentum, was 620 kilometres northeast of the capital Taipei at 0000 GMT, according to the Central Weather Bureau.

Packing gusts of 137 kilometres per hour, the typhoon was moving west-northwest at 18 kilometres per hour, it said.

"Fitow is maintaining its strength and will bring heavy rains to northern and northeastern Taiwan, especially Taipei and New Taipei cities. Its impact is expected to be at the strongest on Sunday morning," the bureau said.

Taiwan has been hit by a string of strong typhoons and tropical storms in recent months.

Super Typhoon Usagi, the most powerful storm of the year, lashed the island last month, injuring at least 12 people, disrupting traffic while leaving tens of thousands of households without power.

In August, Tropical Storm Kong-Rey claimed three lives, just weeks after powerful Typhoon Soulik left two people dead and at least 100 injured.