Typhoon Morakot smashed into Taiwan, leaving about 75,000 people without power and dumping more than 1,000 millimeters (39.4 inches) of rain. China evacuated 20,000 people in the southeastern province of Fujian, about 180 kilometers from Taiwan.
Morakot, which means emerald in Thai, hit land at 11:50 pm Frifay in the eastern county of Hualien, the Central Weather Bureau said. The storm packed sustained winds of 144 kilometers (89 miles) per hour, gusting to 180 kph as of 1 a.m., the bureau said on its website. Morakot is heading north- northwest at 10 kph and will probably weaken, it said.
Authorities in Taiwan shut financial markets, offices and schools yesterday, and President Ma Ying-jeou ordered emergency services to prepare for the storm’s arrival. Previous typhoons have caused flooding and deaths. Morakot is a Category 1 typhoon, where Category 5 is the strongest, according to ratings from Tropical Storm Risk, a forecasting service.
There were no reports of deaths or serious injuries, according to the National Fire Agency.
Domestic flights, trains and high-speed rail service have been halted since yesterday, Jason Jen, a spokesman for the Ministry of Transportation and Communications, said by phone. More than 200 international flights were canceled or delayed, according to the Taoyuan International Airport Web site.
Businesses, Schools Closed
The Taiwan Stock Exchange, the island’s largest, and the foreign exchange market were shut yesterday because of the typhoon. Businesses and schools in 19 of Taiwan’s 25 administrative regions remained closed, the Central Personnel Administration said on its Web site.
As of 6 p.m., 605,262 people experienced power disruptions, Taiwan Power Co., the island’s biggest power generator, said in a statement on its Web site. Supply had been restored in some areas and more than 75,000 people remained without power, the company said.
Rainfall from the typhoon may help relieve a water shortage on the island, Ma’s office said in a statement.
The island’s northern and eastern region received the most rain, with 1,099 millimeters falling in Pingtung County and 828 millimeters in Chiayi, the weather bureau said. Morakot, with a radius of 250 kilometers, is expected to drop as much as 1,200 millimeters in some areas, said Lin Hsiu-wen, deputy director of the bureau.
Vice Economics Minister Hwang Jung-Chiou told reporters this week that Taiwan may have to cut water supplies to swimming pools because of the lack of rainfall, as the El Nino weather phenomenon, which can cause drought, develops in the region.
Threat to China
Morakot would be the strongest typhoon to land in China this year, state media Xinhua news agency said, citing Dong Rong, deputy director of the Fujian observatory. The typhoon is expected to land in northern Fujian and central Zhejiang as soon as today, the report said.
The provincial government sent 8.4 million mobile phone text messages to warn people about the typhoon and ordered schools and tourist attractions to close, Xinhua said.
Workers building the world’s highest power transmission tower on Damaoshan Island in eastern China’s Zhejiang province stopped work yesterday, the report said.
About 34,000 vessels had been recalled to port in Fujian, Xinhua reported.