Typhoon kills 5 in Taiwan, heads for China

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Taipei, Oct 7: A strong typhoon headed for China today after killing five people, injuring 53 and cutting power to more than 2 million people in Taiwan as it lashed the island with heavy rain and high winds.

Typhoon Krosa was on course to reach China around noon while continuing to dump rain on Taiwan, forecasters said.

At 0900 hrs IST it was packing sustained winds of 101 kph and gusts of 126 kph about half way between Taiwan and the mainland, where more than 1 million people have been evacuated as a precaution.

''We can't say it's totally past Taiwan, and there will still be some impact felt here,'' said Lin Guan-chen, an inspector with the Ministry of the Interior's disaster response centre in Taipei. ''We haven't lifted our warnings.'' A landslide killed two people in a mountainous area of the capital, Taipei, while isolated accidents caused by high winds killed another two. A traffic accident caused the fifth casualty, Taiwan's National Fire Agency reported.

Another 2,394 people were evacuated and 1,453 put in temporary shelters, the agency said.

Also yesterday 2.2 million homes and businesses lost power. All but 146,000 outages had been restored by today, the agency said.

Wind-blown rain flooded homes, blocked roads and downed signs and trees across the island.

The storm led to the cancellation today of 71 of 584 international flights 242 of 307 domestic flights. The government continued to advise against going to work or to any classes.

Krosa was forecast to reach southern Zhejiang province in China by early afternoon, China's official Xinhua news agency said. It said as much as 300 mm of rain had already fallen in some areas and that a river had risen one metre above danger level.

More than 1 million people in Zhejiang and neighbouring Fujian province have been evacuated. Wenzhou, a cradle of Chinese capitalism, has issued a red warning signal and ordered boats to head for safe harbours, Xinhua reported.

But British forecasting service Tropical Storm Risk had downgraded Krosa's strength from category 4 to 2 today.

It should weaken to a common tropical storm on its way over Shanghai -- which is staging the Chinese Grand Prix today -- and back out to sea toward Fukuoka in Japan, Tropical Storm Risk said on its Web site (http://tsr.mssl.ucl.ac.uk/).

Typhoons regularly hit China, Taiwan, the Philippines and Japan from August through the end of the year, gathering strength from the warm waters of the Pacific Ocean or the South China Sea before weakening over land.


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