Tropical storm Talim races from South to North Taiwan
Thursday normal working day in Taipei
Taiwan News, Staff Writer
2012-06-20 02:55 PM
TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – Tropical storm Talim moved rapidly from South to North Taiwan Wednesday, reportedly leaving one person dead, forcing the evacuation of thousands and causing widespread disruptions to traffic.

The eye of the storm was located 90 km west of Taipei over the Taiwan Straits at 9 p.m., the Central Weather Bureau said. It was moving north-northeast at a speed of 41 to 46 kilometer per hour, with winds of 72 kph and gusts of up to 101 kph in a radius of 150 km. Land warnings were in effect for all of Taiwan, including its smaller and more remote islands to the east and west. They might be lifted early Thursday morning at the earliest, reports said.

Even though the eye of the storm was moving at about double its speed of Tuesday, Talim would still bring high amounts of rain, which might reach a total of 1,500 millimeters in Southern Taiwan, forecasters said.

By Thursday afternoon, the storm would have moved 700 kilometers away from Taipei in the direction of Japan, according to the bureau. Despite the rapid progression of the storm expected for Thursday, most of Taiwan would still have to take the possibility of torrential rain into account until at least Friday, forecasters said.

The bureau warned that the strong winds and torrential rains striking Penghu and Southern Taiwan Wednesday morning would move up to the north and hit most of Taiwan later in the day. Residents of areas prone to flooding and landslides should be especially vigilant, forecasters said. In the North, the worst of the rain and wind was expected to hit from Wednesday evening to Thursday morning.

A high school student drowned after falling into a swollen drainage ditch in Liukuei, Kaohsiung City, on Tuesday, reports said.

More than 5,300 people were evacuated from their homes as a preventive measure by Wednesday afternoon, with 3,000 housed in special shelters. The evacuations took place in mountainous area threatened by landslides and by new lakes formed by torrential rainfall over the past week, as well as in low-lying areas where flooding happens frequently.

Attempts to repair a 100-meter stretch of dikes near Chiku, Tainan City, encountered problems as strong waves kept slamming into the works, reports said. Four local officials inspecting the works Wednesday morning were reportedly swept away by a wave but managed to hold on to construction equipment before being rescued.

Landslides were reported from Shenmu Village in mountainous Nantou County, threatening roads and homes. One man was reported missing in the county after he went out to collect medicinal plants.

In Penghu, a fishing trawler was thrown onto the shore by high waves, while in Hsitzuwan, an island part of Kaohsiung’s city area known for its seafood restaurants, waves 2 meters high were seen crashing into the coast, reports said.

The authorities in Taipei City were keeping a close watch on the capital’s Wenshan District for signs of soil loosening on hillsides.

As the storm was expected to move up from the south to the north during the day, Taipei City, New Taipei City, Keelung City, Taoyuan and Ilan announced a closure of schools and offices for the evening. The capital decided later that Thursday would be a normal day for office workers and students, as did most parts of Taiwan with the exception of some townships and villages in threatened areas.

At least 14 roads were closed because of landslides or damaged bridges, officials said, with traffic banned from three more roads as a precaution. Most of the problematic roads were situated in Nantou, Kaohsiung and Chiayi County, reports said. A further 130 roads were under threat from landslides.

Airlines cancelled more than 200 domestic flights, with only five flights between Taipei and Hualien going ahead as scheduled, reports said. Most international air links were not affected but for a limited number of flights being rescheduled to avoid the worse of the storm.

Train service gradually wound down during the afternoon, with almost only local trains running after 4 p.m. Wednesday, affecting an estimated 20,000 travelers. The Taiwan High Speed Rail Corporation adapted its schedule, but trains kept running until late at night, reports said.

Ferry traffic, including the ships carrying tourists between China and Taiwan’s outer islands, was at a virtual standstill. The only people still moving around in areas threatened by the storm were Chinese tourists, cable stations reported, showing groups visiting scenic areas deserted by local visitors. Room occupancy at Nantou County’s popular Sun Moon Lake stood at 50 percent, reports said.

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