17 dead, 101 injured, millions without power in raging Taiwan typhoon (PHOTOS)
A powerful typhoon, magnified by fierce winds and torrential rain, has ripped through central Taiwan after making landfall on the east coast, cutting power to nearly 3 million households and killing 17 people.
A total of 101 people have been injured and four left missing in Taiwan, according to AP. All 279 domestic and at least 37 international flights were canceled on Saturday.
Thousands have been evacuated, with 1,300 people in temporary shelters across the island, according to AFP. All schools and workplaces were shut on Saturday.
The storm made landfall early on Saturday morning on the island's east-coast counties of Yilan and Hualien, bringing up to 1,000mm of rain in mountainous northeastern areas, with wind raging at up to 200kph.
"This is one of the worst typhoons I have ever seen," a sewage station engineer named Jiang, who was inspecting pumping stations early on Saturday, told Reuters.
"My car was shaking when I was driving. There are too many trees down, and I even saw six downed power poles," he added.
Authorities said that a passing car killed a rescue worker while he was attempting to clear fallen branches from a road. Another man, a foreign worker, lost his life when a falling sign struck him.
As the massive storm approached from the Pacific Ocean on Friday, an eight-year-old girl and her mother died in rough seas off the coast of Yilan.
In Taipei, large steel sheets and rods were blown off a half-constructed stadium. City authorities shut down a number of bus and subway services. Tens of thousands of troops have been put on stand-by for rescue operations.
Flood and mudslide alerts have been issued as more rain and wind is forecast for late Saturday and Sunday. Soudelor is expected to cross the Taiwan Strait and hit the Chinese province of Fujian late on Saturday.
According to the island's main power company, Taiwan Power, as many as 2.94 million households have lost power. While some supplies were later restored, two million households were still without power on Saturday afternoon, the company reported.
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The Tropical Storm Risk website said on Saturday that on a scale of 1 to 5, the typhoon was a Category 2 storm, and could weaken to Category 1 as it leaves the island.
Soudelor has been compared to Typhoon Morakot, the deadliest typhoon to hit Taiwan in recorded history. It left 461 people dead and 192 others missing, causing $3 billion worth of damage in 2009.