Sunday 21 January 2018

Powerful typhoon approaching eastern Taiwan with gusts of 240 kilometres per hour


A powerful typhoon is approaching eastern Taiwan, grounding fishing boats, commercial ships and planes.

Typhoon Nepartak slowed and weakened slightly on Thursday afternoon but remained dangerous, packing maximum sustained winds of 127 miles per hour and gusts of 149 mph.

It was blowing at sea about 99 miles north-east of Itbayat town in the northernmost Philippine province of Batanes with a large rain diameter of 403 miles, according to the Philippine weather agency.

It is forecast to make landfall on Friday morning south of Hualien city in eastern Taiwan. Big waves are already lashing the shore of the nearby Ilan port city, where fishermen secured their boats. Forecasters said waves 3 to 24 feet could batter the coast, inland lakes and beachfront areas.

Restaurant owner Chen Mang-ning said he had to put a lock on the rolling door of his establishment to protect the windows from strong wind.

"Yes, I am worried about it, same as everyone here," said fisherman Chen Chun-po.

Hong Kong's two biggest airlines, Cathay Pacific Airways and Dragonair, said they were cancelling flights to and from Taiwan scheduled from Thursday evening to Friday afternoon as the storm bears down on the island.

Across the Luzon Strait, in the northern tip of the Philippines, authorities raised storm alerts in Batanes, about 434 miles north of Manila, and outlying islands in a sparsely-populated region.

The typhoon will not hit land there but will intensify seasonal south-west monsoon rains, which could spark thunderstorms and flash floods on the main northern Luzon island, said government forecaster Aldzar Aurelio. Some domestic flights were cancelled in the northern Philippines.

Nepartak is a Micronesian word for a local warrior.

In November 2013, Typhoon Haiyan struck the central Philippines with ferocious power, leaving more than 7,300 people dead and missing and displacing more than 5 million others after levelling entire villages.

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