Megi, third typhoon in a month, hits Taiwan

A motorcyclist losing his balance as Typhoon Megi hit Hualien, eastern Taiwan, yesterday.
A motorcyclist losing his balance as Typhoon Megi hit Hualien, eastern Taiwan, yesterday.PHOTO; REUTERS

Taiwan came to a standstill yesterday as Typhoon Megi, the third storm to hit the island this month, closed offices and schools, left more than three million homes without power and killed four people.

As winds gusting up to 200kmh and torrential rain forced thousands to evacuate, the Central Emergency Operation Centre reported that four people died and more than 300 were hurt as roofs were torn off and billboards and scaffolding sent crashing.

Hundreds of domestic and international flights were cancelled.

The typhoon dumped up to 900mm of rain in some areas, triggering landslides and flooding and uprooting trees in the eastern counties of Hualien and Taitung.

More than 35,000 troops were put on standby as the typhoon approached and will help with disaster relief operations or evacuations.

In the capital Taipei, gusts overturned a tour bus carrying Japanese tourists, seriously injuring two people.

Most domestic flights leaving Taoyuan Airport were cancelled, and more than 500 international flights were either cancelled or delayed. Public bus services in Taipei and high-speed rail services between Taipei and the southern city of Kaohsiung were suspended.

Meteorologists said yesterday's fierce winds that blasted through Taipei were the strongest since Typhoon Soudelor swept past Taiwan last year, killing at least eight people, injuring more than 400 others and knocking out power in nearly five million households.

In Hong Kong, heavy air pollution cloaked the city for a second day yesterday as Typhoon Megi's influence sent temperatures soaring to as high as 36 deg C, the South China Morning Post (SCMP) reported.

The Hong Kong Observatory issued a very hot weather warning in the morning, as visibility in some places dropped below 3km.

The Environmental Protection Department advised children, the elderly and people suffering from heart or respiratory illnesses to stay indoors after some regions recorded very high levels of air pollution, according to the SCMP.

The typhoon disrupted air traffic between Hong Kong and Taiwan, with at least 49 flights either cancelled or suspected.

As Megi continues barrelling across the Taiwan Strait towards mainland China, offices and schools in Kaohsiung, the western county of Chiayi and the islands of Penghu and Kinmen will stay shut today.

It is expected to make landfall today in the southern Chinese province of Fujian, where the authorities were cancelling train services and preparing to evacuate people, Chinese state media said.

Typhoon Megi comes over a week after Typhoon Malakas wreaked chaos with heavy rain.

Earlier this month, super typhoon Meranti, the strongest storm in 21 years, killed one person, cut power, and forced thousands to flee their homes across central and southern Taiwan.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 28, 2016, with the headline 'Taiwan hit by third typhoon in a month'. Print Edition | Subscribe