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Thousands evacuated as Taiwan prepares for biggest 2015 typhoon

Typhoon Soudelor, predicted to strengthen as it approaches Taiwan, is expected to batter the island hardest between tomorrow and early Saturday.

By: AFP | Taipei | Updated: August 6, 2015 7:17:58 pm
taiwan typhoon, Typhoon Soudelor, typhoon taiwan, Soudelor As Typhoon Soudelor approaches, fishing boats are secured in a port in Yilan County, northeastern Taiwan, Thursday, Aug. 6, 2015. Soudelor is expected to bring heavy rains and strong winds to the island Friday with winds speeds over 170 km per hour (100 mph) and gusts over 200 km per hour (120 mph) according to Taiwan’s Central Weather Bureau. (Source: AP)

The strongest typhoon of the year was bearing down on Taiwan’s east coast today, forcing the evacuation of more than 2,000 from outlying islands popular with tourists.

Typhoon Soudelor, packing maximum wind gusts of up to 209 kilometres per hour, was 790 kilometres southeast of Hualien county as of 5:30 pm local time (0930 GMT). It is currently categorised as a moderate storm by Taiwan’s Central Weather Bureau, although other observatories in the region class it as a severe typhoon.

Soudelor, predicted to strengthen as it approaches Taiwan, is expected to batter the island hardest between tomorrow and early Saturday.

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A sea warning has already been issued and the weather bureau has said it will also put out a land warning later today.

Around 2,600 people, including tourists and residents, have been evacuated from Green Island and Orchid Island off the coast of the eastern county of Taitung, according to the tourism office.

Ferry services to the outlying islands were suspended today.

“It’s (currently) posing a threat to the sea off the eastern half of Taiwan and the Bashi Channel,” said the weather bureau.

“The chance of the typhoon strengthening later is still expected.”

Taiwan celebrates Father’s Day on August 8 and the inclement weather is expected to disrupt many families’ plans.

The government warned all departments to take precautionary measures ahead of Soudelor’s landing, including preparing for floods, landslides and fallen trees.

“Although it won’t have the same effect of Typhoon Morakot, this typhoon is still very well developed,” Premier Mao Chi-kuo said today, referring to the storm that killed some 600 people in 2009, most buried in huge landslides.

“It must not be taken lightly,” he added in a statement. Around 32,000 soldiers were on standby for disaster relief, the ministry of national defence said today.

Weather across the Taiwan was still calm today afternoon with blue skies in the capital Taipei and temperatures above 30 degrees Celsius.

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