Taiwan shuts down for Typhoon Maria

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TAIPEI, July 10, 2018 (BSS/AFP) – Schools and offices in Taiwan will close
Tuesday and flights have been cancelled as Typhoon Maria churns towards
Taiwan bringing torrential rains and powerful winds.

Maria was 500 kilometres (310 miles) east of the northeastern coastal town
of Yilan with gusts of up to 190 kilometres an hour as of 10 am local time
(0200 GMT), the weather bureau said.

Its impact was expected to be the strongest from late Tuesday to early
Wednesday, with downpours up to 500 millimetres (19.7 inches) forecast in
some areas, the bureau added. Officials have warned of possible floods and
mudslides.

Taiwanese authorities announced that offices and schools would close on
Tuesday afternoon in five cities, including Yilan, where strong waves have
started to pound the shore.

Local television footage showed farmers in Yilan rushing to their fields
harvest scallions, the county’s most famous produce.

Fishermen in coastal Keeling also brought in their catch and secured their
boats ahead of the storm, one day after dozens of ferry services to outlying
islands were cancelled.

Taiwan’s UNI Air cancelled around 70 domestic flights on Tuesday while two
other airlines have cancelled flights to the Japanese island of Okinawa.

Hong Kong’s Cathay Pacific said it has cancelled over a dozen flights
between Hong Kong and Taipei, as well as from Hong Kong to Okinawa on Tuesday
and Wednesday.

Premier William Lai warned local authorities and the public to “remain
vigilant” for the first typhoon of the season in Taiwan. He urged people to
stay indoors and cooperate with the government’s disaster prevention plans.

The typhoon will not make a direct hit if it continues on its current
trajectory, which would see it skim off northern Taiwan, according to the
weather bureau.

Taiwan is frequently hit by typhoons in the summer. Last year more than 100
people were injured when Typhoon Nesat battered the island, causing flooding
and widespread power outages.

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