TAIPEI – Strong winds knocked down people and scattered debris as a large typhoon crossed over Taiwan on Tuesday, killing four people and injuring more than 260, officials said.
Typhoon Megi’s bands of heavy rain and 162-kilometers- (100 miles-) per-hour sustained winds blanketed the island by midafternoon as the eye of the storm made landfall on the east coast. Authorities had raised alert levels for the island prone to landslides and flooding, said National Fire Agency Director-General Chen Wen-lung.
The 268 injuries include eight Japanese tourists hurt in tour bus that turned on its side in central Taiwan. Three people suffered fatal falls and a fourth person died in a truck crash, said Lee Wei-sen, a spokesman for Taiwan’s Central Emergency Operations Center. Many of the injuries were from falling and wind-blown objects.
Megi is 500 kilometers (310 miles) in diameter, and rainfall had topped 300 millimeters (12 inches) in the south and eastern mountains.
“The rainfall problem will get increasingly severe as the storm passes over,” Lee said. “We’ve got to see whether the amount of rain has a big impact. The only good news is that it’s moving fast on its way over Taiwan.”
More than 8,000 people had been evacuated, mostly from mountainous areas at risk of landslides or floods. About 2,800 went to shelters, Chen said.
More than 2.9 million households lost power, though 976,000 had been restored by late evening, according to Taiwan’s Central News Agency.
More than 121 flights were delayed and 253 canceled at Taiwan’s Taoyuan International Airport, and seven were diverted to other airports. Authorities had closed schools, offices and most of Taiwan’s railway system.
Megi is the fourth typhoon of the year to hit Taiwan.
On the Chinese coast, about 160 kilometers (100 miles) from Taiwan at its nearest point, fishing boats were ordered back to port, the country’s official Xinhua News Agency said. It said the typhoon was expected to reach Guangdong province and Fujian province Wednesday morning, bringing as much as 400 mm of rain to parts of Fujian.
By RALPH JENNINGS (AP)