Liu Chao-shiuan steps down amid heavy criticism over slow response to typhoon.
|Fanapi has brought winds of up to 220kph over Taiwan and prompted southeastern China to go on high alert [AFP]|
Typhoon Fanapi has made landfall near Taiwan’s east coast, bringing with it heavy rains and winds of more than 200km per hour (kph).
The Central Weather Bureau said Fanapi reached Hualien city in eastern Taiwan at 8.40pm local time [0040 GMT] on Sunday, with gusts of up to 220kph after picking up speed.
TV footage from Hualien showed branches torn off trees and a lorry upturned while driving along an exposed stretch of road.
Trees were uprooted in Taipei, the country’s capital, and in the southern city of Kaohsiung, while television images showed a traffic light toppled by the powerful gusts.
Fanapi, which means “small atoll islands” in Micronesian, is expected to hit the south coast of China on Monday.
The Chinese government evacuated 150,000 people amid a warning over what authorities said could be the fiercest typhoon of the year to hit the region.
Memories are still raw in Taiwan of the onslaught of Typhoon Morakot in 2009, which left more than 700 people dead or missing in one of the island’s worst natural disasters.
Morakot triggered a storm of criticism of Ma Ying-jeou, the Taiwanese president, and his administration for reacting too late.
In an effort to show a more proactive approach, Ma presided over a video conference on Saturday with local officials, urging measures to prevent major damage from the typhoon.
Some train services and all domestic flight were cancelled, while several international flights were called off.
The National Fire Agency said more than 6,000 people had been evacuated from mountainous areas.
Television footage showed Taiwan’s defence forces deploying armoured personnel carriers for duty in case of floods and other emergencies.
In southeastern China, authorities were on high alert after the national meteorological centre warned that Fanapi was expected to hit the coastal areas of Guangdong and Fujian provinces after passing through Taiwan.
The official Xinhua news agency said more than 55,000 fishing boats had come back to port in Fujian in anticipation of the dangerous winds.