Taiwan evacuates thousands as 'super typhoon' nears

High waves strike northeastern coast and fishing boats called back to shore as Dujuan gathers strength on its approach.

    Taiwan has evacuated thousands of residents and tourists as "super typhoon" Dujuan headed towards the island, gathering strength on its approach to the east coast.

    Torrential rains and high winds are forecast across Taiwan from Monday afternoon, with landfall predicted around 15:00 GMT.

    Almost 3,000 people, most of them tourists, were evacuated on Sunday from Taiwan's Green Island and Orchid Island - popular with visitors.

    About 4,000 more were moved on Monday in advance of the storm.

    Eric Chu, New Taipei's mayor, said the people were from vulnerable areas, including the hot spring town of Wulai, just outside Taipei.

    "In areas that could become isolated during the typhoon, sufficient rescue and communications equipment will be deployed in advance. We hope residents can cooperate with us," he said.

    Huge waves were already striking the northeastern coast by midday and fishing boats were called back to shore.

    Al Jazeera's Jamela Alindogan, reporting from Taipei, said strong winds have been hitting the capital city but there was only "little rain" as of 06:00 GMT.

    She said people celebrating an annual festival have been rushing back home before the typhoon.

    Operation of ports and train stations will also be halted in the afternoon.

    Read More: Typhoon Dujuan set to batter Taiwan

    Taiwan's weather bureau on Sunday upgraded Dujuan to a "strong typhoon", its top category.

    Other regional weather bureaus, including the Hong Kong Observatory, categorised it as a "super typhoon" as it intensified to reach gusts of 227km per hour.

    "The whole of the island should heighten vigilance against severe winds and torrential rains," a spokesperson for Taiwan's Central Weather Bureau said.

    Deadly typhoon Soudelor slams into Taiwan

    Wulai was hit hard by Typhoon Soudelor in August, with some residents unable to return home for weeks.

    Indigenous mountain communities are particularly at risk during typhoons, often hit by flooding and mudslides.

    Some are still cleaning up after Soudelor left a trail of destruction.

    "A massive amount of rubble caused by the last typhoon is still seen on slopes and river beds. This may cause further damage," the weather bureau said.

    More than 24,000 troops are on standby for disaster relief and evacuations, with 100 shelters set up.

    Emergency response centres have been established in the north and east.

    Dujuan was 170km off the coast of eastern Hualien County at noon (04:00 GMT) on Monday.

    Dujuan will pass near the Japanese island of Ishigaki as it approaches Taiwan.

    High waves

    Japan's meteorological agency has warned it could cause waves of up to 42ft high.

    The storm is on course to hit mainland China from Tuesday, but is forecast to have weakened by then.

    So far there have been no reports of damage or injuries in connection with the typhoon.

    Soudelor caused at least eight deaths in Taiwan last month as it flooded rivers, destroyed trees, and prompted landslides.

    Fallen trees and signboards damaged electricity lines, knocking out power to a record 4.3 million households.

    It went on to kill 21 people in mainland China.


    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and agencies


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