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Taiwan closes offices, suspends flights ahead of tropical storm

Massive waves from approaching Tropical Storm Trami slam into breakwaters near Toucheng, north-eastern Taiwan on Wednesday, Aug 21, 2013. -- PHOTO: REUTERS
Massive waves from approaching Tropical Storm Trami slam into breakwaters near Toucheng, north-eastern Taiwan on Wednesday, Aug 21, 2013. -- PHOTO: REUTERS
A man holding an umbrella rides a motorcycle as Tropical Storm Trami approaches the north-eastern coastal town of Nanfangao in Ilan county on Aug 21, 2013. -- PHOTO: AFP
A man holding an umbrella rides a motorcycle as Tropical Storm Trami approaches the north-eastern coastal town of Nanfangao in Ilan county on Aug 21, 2013. -- PHOTO: AFP
A pedestrian walks in front a glass wall protected with tape in anticipation of Tropical Storm Trami in Taipei on Aug 21, 2013. -- PHOTO: AFP 
A pedestrian walks in front a glass wall protected with tape in anticipation of Tropical Storm Trami in Taipei on Aug 21, 2013. -- PHOTO: AFP 
Pedestrians battle against strong winds caused by Tropical Storm Trami in Taipei on Aug 21, 2013. -- PHOTO: AFP
Pedestrians battle against strong winds caused by Tropical Storm Trami in Taipei on Aug 21, 2013. -- PHOTO: AFP
A pedestrian walks in front a glass door protected with tape in anticipation of Tropical Storm Trami in Taipei on Aug 21, 2013. Taiwan closed offices and suspended flights on Wednesday as Tropical Storm Trami churned towards the island, with meteorol
A pedestrian walks in front a glass door protected with tape in anticipation of Tropical Storm Trami in Taipei on Aug 21, 2013. Taiwan closed offices and suspended flights on Wednesday as Tropical Storm Trami churned towards the island, with meteorologists cautioning against torrential rains and strong winds. -- PHOTO: AFP

TAIPEI (AFP) - Taiwan closed offices and suspended flights on Wednesday as Tropical Storm Trami churned towards the island, with meteorologists cautioning against torrential rains and strong winds.

The Central Weather Bureau urged the public to be vigilant as the storm was likely to introduce "cloudbursts" - more than 100 mm of rain per hour - in some areas.

Persistent torrential rains could lead to landslides in mountainous areas and flooding, it warned.

The storm, with gusts up to 137 km per hour, was moving west north-west at a speed of 25 km per hour, the bureau said.

Officials at the bureau said the impact may be felt mostly from Wednesday night to Thursday morning even if it did not make landfall.

More than 200 mm of rain has fallen in various places in the north the past day, and the volume could surge to one metre, the bureau warned.

Financial markets were closed, while offices and schools in the north, the area which is anticipated to be mostly affected by the storm, shut down.

All the flights and ferries between Taiwan and offshore islands were terminated, according to the transportation ministry.

As part of the government's preventive measures, the defence ministry deployed around 2,000 soldiers in some areas prone to be hit by flooding and landslides, and placed another 50,000 on stand-by.

President Ma Ying-jeou cut an overseas trip short by one day, flying back to Taiwan from a visit to the Caribbean via a stopover in the United States.

Last month Typhoon Soulik battered Taiwan with torrential rain and powerful winds, leaving two people dead and at least 100 injured.

Roofs were ripped from homes, debris and fallen trees littered the streets and some areas were submerged by floods.