Taiwan braces for Typhoon Soudelor

TAIPEI, Taiwan - The Central Weather Bureau (CWB) yesterday issued torrential rain warnings for 16 regions in Taiwan as Typhoon Soudelor drew near to the island.

The outer rim of the storm, classified as a medium typhoon, the second on the CWB's three-tier system, touched land in Eastern Taiwan at around 5 p.m. yesterday. All of Taiwan island was covered by the storm last night. The centre of the typhoon is expected to make landfall early today and will remain over Taiwan until this afternoon.

As of press time, the CWB had issued torrential rain warnings for Yilan, Hualien and Taitung in the east; Taipei City, New Taipei City, Taoyuan City and Hsinchu County in the north; Miaoli County, Taichung City, Nantou County and Yunlin County in Central Taiwan as well as the southern regions of Chiayi County and Chiayi City, Tainan City, Kaohsiung City and Pingtung County.

As of 8:30 p.m., the storm's centre was 250 kilometers east-southeast of Hualien, moving 21 kilometers per hour in a west-northwesterly direction and packing maximum sustained winds of 173 kilometers per hour, with gusts reaching 209 kilometers per hour.

The CWB also warned of heavy rain in Keelung City, Hsinchu City and Changhua County.

Most local governments across Taiwan announced closures of schools and work today due to the storm. As of press time, Tainan City and Kinmen County had yet to announce work and school opening policies for today. Offices and schools are confirmed to be closed for all other regions in Taiwan.

Train & High Speed Rail Cancellations

The Taiwan High Speed Rail Corporation has cancelled all bullet train services for today until 4 p.m. Taiwan Railway Administration also announced cancellations of trains for today until noon.

Even as Taiwan prepared for the storm, the Central Emergency Operation Center (CEOC) had received reports of casualties in typhoon-related accidents. The CEOC said that a girl who was swept out to sea in Yilan County on Thursday was still missing as of press time.

The Coast Guard in Suao Township was forced to recall search teams because of high winds and rough seas.

The missing girl's twin sister and mother died after the three of them and another girl who survived were swept away by strong waves at Suao Township's Neipi beach. Experts warned of the false sense of security that people can feel when playing in dangerous coastal areas in Eastern Taiwan.

Water Conservation

The Taiwan Water Corporation (TWC) has called for the public to conserve water as heavy rainfall might increase the murkiness of water in reservoirs and put more strain on water purification facilities. The TWC has established an emergency task force to handle the situation.