New Delhi: Taiwan suspended flights, rail transport and ferry services along with classes, outdoor events, and officials urged workers to stay home as the island prepared for the arrival of Typhoon Haikui later Sunday.
The storm’s approach came as Typhoon Saola continued to weaken while moving along the Chinese coast, where 900,000 people and 80,000 fishing vessels had been moved to safety and most of Hong Kong and parts of the coastal mainland closed down businesses, transport and schools.
Damage appeared to be minimal, however, and restrictions had largely been lifted by Sunday.
Parts of Taiwan were already feeling the effects of Haikui’s heavy rain and high winds, and dozens of domestic flights were canceled, along with air services to Hong Kong and Macao. The storm had maximum sustained winds of 137 kph (85 mph), with gusts up to 173 kph (107 mph), according to the island’s meteorological bureau.
Among events canceled was a hot air balloon festival in the central Taichung region, several outdoor concerts, art events and a baseball festival. National parks and treacherous roads in the island’s mountainous center were also closed.
Haikui was expected to continue on toward China after crossing over Taiwan, and authorities in the Chinese city of Shantou in Guangdong province were advising residents to take precautions.
Because of Saoloa, workers in a number of Chinese cities stayed at home and students saw the start of their school year postponed from Friday to Monday. Trading on Hong Kong’s stock market was suspended Friday and hundreds of people were stranded at the airport after about 460 flights were canceled in the key regional business and travel hub.
The cross-border bridge connecting Hong Kong, the gambling hub of Macao and manufacturing center of Zhuhai was closed at one point, with Macao leader Ho Iat Seng ordering a halt to casino operations.
As the storm side-swiped the densely populated financial center, the Hong Kong Observatory issued a No. 10 hurricane alert, the highest warning under the city’s weather system for the first time since 2018.
However, by Saturday night, the observatory had canceled all warnings and the hundreds who had taken shelter at prepared facilities were returning home.
In recent months, China has experienced some of its heaviest rains and deadliest flooding in years in various regions. Dozens of people have been killed, including in outlying mountainous parts of the capital, Beijing.
Hong Kong’s government said various departments received reports of a total of 1,206 uprooted trees and flooding was reported in 18 areas. It said 75 people visited hospitals with storm-related injuries.
Despite the twin storms, China’s military continued to conduct operations meant to intimidate Taiwan, a self-ruled democracy that Beijing seeks to bring under Chinese sovereignty by force if necessary.
Taiwan’s Defense Ministry said it was monitoring the movements of Chinese military aircraft and navy ships near the island. However, it said there were no indications any had crossed the median line in the Taiwan Strait or entered Taiwan’s air defense identification zone as they frequently do. (AP)