September 1, 2005

Typhoon kills one in Taiwan, heads for China

By Michael Kramer

TAIPEI (Reuters) - Typhoon Talim churned toward south China
after sweeping through Taiwan on Thursday, killing one person
and injuring 24 as the island shut businesses, schools and
financial markets to ride out the storm.

The strong winds toppled billboards, broke windows and
knocked motorcyclists off their bikes, while heavy rain led to
flooding in some towns in central Taiwan.

The storm's eye was about two-thirds of the way across the
narrow Taiwan Strait by 0500 GMT, putting the southeastern
Chinese city of Fuzhou in its path. Gusts weakened to 180 kph
(112 mph) from 227 kph, Taiwan's Central Weather Bureau said.

Talim was poised to make landfall in southeast China with
sustained winds of up to 144 kph, but Taiwan would continue to
be pelted with rain through into Friday, the bureau said.

"It's very close to the mainland coast," said a forecaster
at the bureau. "We'll have strong winds here until the storm
radius leaves Taiwan, probably some time tonight."

The National Fire Administration's disaster response center
said one man in south Taiwan drowned in a fish pond on
Wednesday after losing his footing.

Disaster response officials said 150,000 people were
without running water and 300,000 had lost electric power.
Thousands were also evacuated from mountain villages overnight.

The howling winds that had ripped through Taipei in the
early hours had weakened by the time the capital awoke, leaving
a trail of uprooted trees and collapsed street signs.

"The winds were really fierce and it was very dangerous
driving through the torrential rain last night," said taxi
driver Tsai Ming-wang, who had just finished an overnight

"I heard a loud bang and saw scaffolding had crashed into
the street right next to my car. It was a close shave."

In China, forecasters urged local authorities to batten
down and many people had already been evacuated form coastal
areas, the China Daily said.

"Talim is probably the strongest typhoon China will
experience this summer," the paper quoted Zhang Ling, a senior
expert with the National Meteorological Center, as saying.

Typhoons frequently menace Taiwan, Japan, the Philippines,
Hong Kong and southern China during the storm season that lasts
from early summer to late autumn. Typhoon Haitang killed 12
people in July, with three still listed as missing.

In 2001, one of Taiwan's deadliest years for storms,
Typhoon Toraji, killed 200 people. A few months later, Typhoon
Nari caused Taipei's worst flooding on record and killed 100.

(Additional reporting by Tiffany Wu)