TAIPEI (AFP) – Taiwan was hit on Sunday (July 30) by its second major storm in two days after Typhoon Nesat battered the island, leaving at least 111 injured while causing flooding and widespread power outages.
Much of the island came to a standstill on Saturday after Nesat made landfall in the eastern county of Yilan, whipping up massive waves of over 15m and dumping up to 58cm of rain in the southern region of Pingtung.
It moved away from Taiwan Sunday as Tropical Storm Haitang churned towards the south of the island and made landfall in Pingtung in late afternoon, said the Central Weather Bureau.
It is the first time in 50 years that Taiwan has issued warnings for two such storms together.
“Even though Haitang is gradually weakening, it is expected to bring heavy rain in central and southern Taiwan from tonight to tomorrow and we urge people to be on guard,” said forecaster Lin Ting-i.
The storm was 50km north-west of Eluanbi, the southernmost tip of the island, at 6pm.
More than 12,000 people have been evacuated since Saturday, with nearly 9,000 soldiers deployed for disaster relief.
Most train services were suspended and around 500 domestic and international flights cancelled or delayed during the weekend.
Two Singapore Airline (SIA) flights to Taipei, SQ 876 and SQ 878, and China Airlines Flight CI 758 to Kaoshiung had been earlier delayed by Typhoon Nesat. But they finally departed Changi Airport on Sunday (July 30), according to the airport's website.
One of two inbound SIA flights from Taipei, SQ 877, which was delayed earlier arrived in Singapore at about 7pm on Sunday (July 30). The other flight, SQ 879, arrived at about 10pm.
A Scoot flight slated to depart Changi Airport on Sunday morning for Shenyang was also affected by the typhoon, and was delayed by about three hours. A spokesman for Scoot said that flight TR166 left Singapore at 5.48am, and passengers were informed in advance of the delay through SMS notifications.
Apologising for the inconvenience caused, the spokesman said: "As part of the flight schedule changes, a replacement aircraft with smaller capacity was deployed for the Singapore-Shenyang flight.
"Affected passengers who were unable to board the replacement flight were offered alternative flight arrangements and hotel accommodation."
At least 111 people were injured in Taiwan, mostly by falling objects or car accidents while some slipped in the bad weather, according to the central emergency operation centre.
More than half a million households were without electricity as Nesat pounded the island with downpours and winds of up to 180 kilometres an hour.
Pingtung suffered the worst flooding as of Saturday night, with some 200 residents stranded but later rescued.
Images showed flooded homes and motorcyclists pushing their vehicles through water.
Around 60,000 households were still without electricity on Sunday though rail services had mostly resumed.
TV footage showed soldiers sending food to some homes in Pingtung, where streets remained flooded.
Two naval vessels anchored in the northern port of Keelung were damaged when they were rammed by a cruise ship whose mooring cable snapped in strong winds.
Although Nesat was Taiwan’s first typhoon this year, the island was pounded by heavy rains last month.
Nesat made landfall at Fuqing city in China’s south-eastern province of Fujian early Sunday, according to state media, with authorities issuing a red typhoon alert – the highest in China’s colour-coded warning system.
Emergency response efforts have begun in neighbouring Zhejiang province, where more than 3,000 people have been evacuated, the China News Service reported.
Another typhoon, dubbed “Begonia”, is expected to make landfall in Fujian either Sunday evening or Monday morning.
- Additional reporting by Felicia Choo