TAIPEI (AFP): Typhoon Chanthu unleashed powerful winds and heavy rain on eastern Taiwan Sunday, disrupting travel links and cutting electricity to some homes but sparing the island a direct hit.
Downgraded from a super typhoon since its rapid formation last week, the outer edges of Chanthu pounded the eastern coastline. But the centre of the storm remained out to sea as it moved north, the central weather bureau said.
The eastern regions of Hualien and Taitung have received some 200 millimetres?8 inches) of rain so far, the bureau added. Waves of up to seven metres were recorded on Orchid Island off Taiwan’s eastern coast.
A total of 159 domestic and international flights have been cancelled due to the typhoon, the central emergency operation centre said. All ferry services to offshore islands were also suspended, along with some train routes.
Around 26,000 households have lost power, authorities added.
“The typhoon is pretty solid and its impact is most obvious today bringing strong winds, rains and waves before it gradually moves away tomorrow,” said forecaster Hsu Chung-yi. At 0200 GMT, Chanthu was 90 kilometres (56 miles) northeast of Hualien, packing gusts of up to 198 kilometres an hour, the bureau said.
Most businesses and public venues were closed in eastern and parts of northern Taiwan, including the capital Taipei where heavy rains started on Sunday. Around 2,600 people in landslide-prone areas around Hualien have been evacuated while some 31,000 troops are on standby for relief work.
Taiwan is regularly hit by tropical storms in the summer months.
In a rare exception to the rule, not a single typhoon made landfall last year, the first time in 56 years.
That helped fuel the worst drought in decades until heavy rains set in a few months ago and brought needed relief.
Elsewhere in the region, heavy rain triggered flooding in several central Vietnamese provinces Sunday after Tropical Depression Conson hit, damaging homes and roads.
Conson, which weakened from a tropical storm before making landfall in Vietnam, blew roofs from houses and flooded roads, according to state media.
Tens of thousands were evacuated from Thua Thien Hue province, state media also reported.
There were some reports of landslides, and concern over 12 people in Thua Thien Hue who remained uncontactable after a trip to a nearby forest.
Further heavy rain and strong winds are forecast in the coming days.