One missing and dozens injured as Super Typhoon Meranti skirts Taiwan

Strongest storm of the year narrowly misses the island but still packs a wallop, leaving more than 600,000 homes without power or water

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 14 September, 2016, 11:57pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 15 September, 2016, 6:05am

Super Typhoon Meranti swept past Taiwan on Wednesday, leaving at least one person missing and 35 people injured and more than 600,000 homes without power or water.

Packing winds up to 220km/h, it is the strongest storm this year and the most powerful to affect the island in 21 years.

Meranti skirted just south of the island and continued into the Taiwan Strait heading towards mainland China, where it is expected to make landfall near Xiamen in Fujian province on Thursday morning.

A fisherman fell overboard and remained missing, while most of the injuries were caused by either falling objects or people losing balance in the strong winds, the Central Emergency Operation Centre said.

Local authorities evacuated 5,000 households in areas threatened by mudslides or flash floods, according to the centre.

Power to 650,000 families and water supply to 750,000 households were lost due to damage to electricity lines and pipes, it said.

There were severe travel disruptions for the Mid-Autumn Festival long weekend, which starts on Thursday, as more than 300 domestic and international flights were cancelled and trains running along the east coast were halted.

More than 130 ferry services to offshore islets and to several Chinese coastal cities were also suspended, officials said.

Mid-Autumn Festival moon-gazing still a go, says Hong Kong Observatory, even as typhoon Meranti prompts signal No 1

Some 718mm of rain fell in Pingtung county, with an additional 1,100mm of precipitation expected in parts over the coming days, according to Taiwan’s Central Weather Bureau.

“As of 5pm, Meranti has moved westward, but Pingtung, Nantou and areas south of Taiwan as well as Penghu Island are still under its influence,” bureau spokesman Hsieh Ming-chang said.

Residents in low-lying areas should prepare for floods, Hsieh said.

The Kaohsiung Harbour Bureau dispatched vessels to tow six ships blown away from shelters, Central News Agency reported.

In Taitung, which is still recovering from damage wrought by Typhoon Nepartak in July, the storm blew large business signs off commercial buildings and lifted roofs off some houses.

The weather bureau said tropical storm Malakas, located east of the Philippines, could strengthen into a typhoon and hit Taiwan by Saturday.

By contrast, Hong Kong was only lightly affected by Meranti. Some rain and clouds were predicted for today although residents hoping to see the full moon for the Mid-Autumn Festival might be in luck, the Observatory said.

The No 1 typhoon standby signal remained in effect last night but the Observatory did not expect to raise the warning – good news for travellers looking to get away for the holidays.

Additional reporting by Danny Lee and Agence France-Presse