TAIPEI • Typhoon Chanthu unleashed powerful winds and heavy rain on eastern Taiwan yesterday, disrupting travel links and cutting electricity to some homes while sparing the island a direct hit.
Downgraded from a super typhoon since its rapid formation last week, the outer edges of Chanthu pounded the eastern coastline. But the centre of the storm remained out at sea as it moved north, the central weather bureau said.
The eastern regions of Hualien and Taitung have received some 200mm of rain so far, the bureau added.
Waves of up to 7m were recorded on Orchid Island off Taiwan's eastern coast.
A total of 159 domestic and international flights were cancelled due to the typhoon, the central emergency operation centre said. All ferry services to offshore islands were also suspended, along with some train routes.
Around 26,000 households lost power, the authorities added.
"The typhoon is pretty solid and its impact is most obvious today, bringing strong winds, rain and waves before it gradually moves away tomorrow," said forecaster Hsu Chung-yi.
At 10am yesterday, Chanthu was 90km north-east of Hualien, packing gusts of up to 198kmh, the bureau said. Most businesses and public venues were closed in eastern and parts of northern Taiwan, including the capital Taipei, where heavy rain started yesterday.
Around 2,600 people in landslide-prone areas around Hualien were evacuated, while some 31,000 troops were on standby for relief work.
Meanwhile, several communities remain flooded and without power after Chanthu battered the Philippines' northernmost islands, displacing thousands of people, the authorities said yesterday.
"It's one of the strongest typhoons I've felt," said Mr Dennis Ballesteros Valdez, a resident of Sabtang town in the province of Batanes, which is often pummelled by powerful typhoons.
Number of domestic and international flights in Taiwan that were cancelled due to Typhoon Chanthu, according to the central emergency operation centre.
Number of households in Taiwan that lost power.
"It could have been more destructive if the houses were not built as strong."
Footage taken by Mr Valdez showed powerful winds and rain battering houses in Sabtang last Saturday morning.
More than 11,000 people have been affected by the typhoon, with over 1,000 people still in evacuation centres, the disaster agency said in a report. No casualties have been reported yet.
AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS