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A woman looks at a display with a typhoon chart at Taoyuan International Airport in Taiwan. Super typhoon Maria was heading towards the island on Tuesday morning and as expected to hit the north the hardest. Photo: EPA-EFE

Super typhoon Maria set to hit northern Taiwan as island prepares for landslides, floods


Taiwan braced for super typhoon Maria on Tuesday, with some transport services suspended and the weather bureau warning of landslides and flash floods on the heavily industrialised island.

As of Tuesday morning, Maria was 490km (305 miles) east of Yilan, moving in a west-northwesterly direction at 30km/h (18mph). It was expected to hit the north of Taiwan the hardest, the Central Weather Bureau said.

Troops were deployed in some areas, with heavy rain and winds expected later on Tuesday and early on Wednesday.

The government announced schools are to close early and work is to end at 4pm on Tuesday.

China Airlines said some flights could be delayed or cancelled due to the typhoon.

Taiwan is frequently hit by typhoons during the summer, but it has stepped up its preparations and been on guard against the potential for severe and deadly typhoons since Typhoon Morakot devastated the island in 2009.

Morakot was the deadliest typhoon to hit the island in recorded history, killing nearly 700 people, most of them in landslides.

Taiwan’s high speed rail system was operating normally on Tuesday and has yet to announce any suspension of service, the Central News Agency reported.

Taiwan High Speed Rail Corp said it has set up an emergency centre to deal with potential problems arising from the storm around the clock but that as of noon on Tuesday, operations were normal.

The operator of Taiwan’s north-south high-speed rail line said it is monitoring the typhoon’s movement and will announce before 8pm its plans for Wednesday.

The Taiwan Railways Administration said, meanwhile, that its trains will operate as scheduled until 4pm. Changes to its schedule after that because of the typhoon will be announced at around noon Tuesday.

Judging from the storm’s current path, it is unlikely to make landfall in Taiwan but its periphery is likely to start to affect the northern and northeastern part of Taiwan on Tuesday evening, the weather bureau said.

This article appeared in the South China Morning Post print edition as: Island on high alert as Super Typhoon Maria nears