Powerful typhoon batters Taiwan, killing four

Typhoon Soudelor hits Taiwan with strong winds and heavy rain, killing four people and leaving millions of others without power

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Typhoon Soudelor made landfall in Taiwan on Saturday, killing at least four people, including an 8-year-old girl and her mother who were swept out to sea. Two workers also died while working to clear a road blocked by falling trees.

The powerful storm brought strong winds and heavy rain to the island's east-coast counties of Yilan and Hualien. Sixty four people have been injured and almost 3 million are without power in the country.  

Hundreds of flights and rail services have been delayed or cancelled due to winds of up to 200 kph and authorities have said that nearly 8,000 people have been evacuated. Schools and offices remain closed across the island after the category 2 storm moved towards the capital Taipei, where steel sheets and rods were blown off a half-completed stadium.

"This is one of the worst typhoons I have ever seen," a sewage station engineer told Reuters. 

"My car was shaking when I was driving. There are too many trees down, and I even saw six downed power poles."

Flood and mudslide alerts have been issued, with Taiwanese officials predicting further devastation over the weekend.

Soudelor is expected to cross the Taiwan Strait and hit China later today, and Chinese authorities have announced that at least 158,000 people - most of them working in the fishing industry - have been evacuated from the province of Fujian's coast.

Soudelor will be the thirteenth typhoon to hit China this year, Officials said they have already rescued 55 university students and teachers who had been camping on a small island. Some ferry services and nearly120 trains on routes to major cities in Fujian and Guangdong have been canceled for the weekend.

Around 55 powerful tropical storms occur in the Pacific every year and the typhoon season runs from May to the end of November. Taiwan was hit by Typhoon Morakot in 2009, the most destructive storm to hit the island in recent history, leaving nearly 700 people dead or missing.

TRTWorld and agencies