August 2, 2012

Taiwan: Island Closes Down For Typhoon

Typhoon Soala, a massive storm that hit the Philippines hard over the past days, arrived in Taiwan, causing the island to close down in its attempt to cope with the severe rainfall that could last until next week. 

Below is an article published by Al Jazeera:

Typhoon Saola has causing nearly the entire island of Taiwan to close down, bringing torrential rains that could linger until next week, officials have said.

The typhoon arrived in Taiwan early on Thursday [2 August 2012], a day after the storm killed 23 people and forced 154,000 from their homes in the Philippines.

Taiwan's National Fire Agency said one person had been killed in a landslide in the central region of Chiayi. Eight people were injured, most in falls from motorcycles.

While some major companies remained open, Taiwanese authorities ordered other businesses and schools to shut.

Financial markets were also shut, with normal operations expected to resume on Friday.

Most domestic flights were also cancelled, along with some international services.

Train services were also stopped as the typhoon made its way up Taiwan's less populated and mountainous east coast.

Al Jazeera's Marga Ortigas reporting from New Taipei City says: "Flash-floods are occurring across northeastern Taiwan, but no major casualties are reported."

Saola is currently rated a category 2 typhoon on a scale of five and was expected to weaken to a category 1 within 12 hours as it passed Taiwan and headed for southeast China, meteorologists said.

A separate system, Typhoon Damrey, has not affected Taiwan and is expected to pass north of China's financial hub of Shanghai on Friday but will weaken to a tropical storm.

China's meteorological agency issued typhoon warnings on Thursday for the southern and eastern provinces of Fujian and Jiangsu.

On Tuesday, China's Premier Wen Jiabao told authorities to be on the highest alert.

Wen, who usually leaves more junior leaders to oversee arrangements before storms, told authorities to step up preparations and "put people's lives first", the official Xinhua news agency said.

Forecasters also predict rain through to Friday, and warn of possible landslides and road collapses.

Typhoon Saola is named after the rare mammal found in Laos and Vietnam.