Typhoon Nepartak heads towards Fujian after slamming into Taiwan
One of the most powerful storms to hit island in years claims three lives and scores injured, but damage was not as extensive as expected
Powerful typhoon Nepartak left Taiwan on Friday afternoon as it churned towards the mainland Chinese province of Fujian after causing damage in a scale much smaller than expected.
But strong gusts and torrential rain would remain on the island and residents were warned that flooding would continue for the next day or two until the island was completely out of the storm’s influence, weathermen said.
Packing winds of up to 245km/h, super typhoon Nepartak slammed into southeast Taiwan, killing three people and injuring 142 others – including 132 who were hit by falling trees and flying debris in Taitung county – before weakening to a medium-strength storm on Friday morning.
A man was killed after he was swept into a river in Hualien, on the east coast of Taiwan, while a solider fell into the sea on Dongying, a Taiwan-controlled island facing the mainland city of Fuzhou, between Thursday and Friday, police said. Their bodies were retrieved hours later.
A third person died in Taitung county after being struck by a piece of flying furniture.
More than 150 flights, including 17 between Taiwan and Hong Kong, were cancelled between Thursday and noon on Friday to avoid the impact of Nepartak, one of the strongest typhoons to hit Taiwan in years, according to Taiwan’s main international airport.
All flights between Taiwan and Fujian were cancelled as the typhoon, which made landfall at Taitung county at dawn on Friday, veered towards the mainland, airport officials said.
Taitung, where most of the casualties occurred, was reported to have sustained gusts of up to 200km/h – the strongest it had encountered in 60 years – the Central Weather Bureau said.
Television footage showed many trees in Taitung uprooted while roofs at some older markets were lifted. Many roads in the county were littered with debris from damaged buildings.
“I can hardly speak and must stand close to the wall in order to make my report,” said a woman journalist from SET cable television who was reporting about the typhoon amid strong gusts and torrential rain.
Knee-deep floods struck some areas in southern Taiwan, including Kaohsiung and Pingtung.
Harbour authorities in Kaohsiung had to dispatch two tow vessels to assist the Singapore-flagged cargo ship Avata away from a military port after it was blown off course from a civilian port where it had docked for shelter. It almost ran into a navy vessel before it was towed away, harbour officials said.
The roof of a police warehouse in Kaohsiung was also lifted by strong winds but no casualties were reported.
The typhoon also cut power to more than 360,000 households, Taiwan Power Company said, adding electricity had been restored to most areas by Friday afternoon.
Forecasters called on residents in Taiwan to remain cautious with heavy rain expected in 10 cities and counties, including Kaohsiung in the south and Taichung in central Taiwan.
“Although Nepartak has left Taiwan, it has brought torrential rain that would continue to affect Taiwan,” a spokesman of the Central Weather Bureau said.