Typhoon Haikui: Taiwan evacuates thousands, cancels flights
Taiwan is preparing for Typhoon Haikui's arrival on Sunday by canceling domestic flights and evacuating nearly 3,000 people.
Authorities successfully evacuated nearly 3,000 people from high-risk areas in eastern Taiwan, before Typhoon Haikui, the first tropical storm to directly strike Taiwan in four years.
As of Sunday morning, Typhoon Haikui had already brought heavy rains to the region, boasting a sustained wind speed of approximately 140km/h (87mph). It is anticipated to make landfall in Taiwan's eastern Taitung area by 5 p.m. (0900 GMT).
In preparation for the storm, schools and offices in the southern and eastern parts of the island remained closed on Sunday, and over 200 domestic flights were canceled. Taiwan's President, Tsai Ing-wen, emphasized that Haikui marks the first typhoon to directly hit Taiwan in four years and urged citizens to take precautions.
The typhoon was situated approximately 180km (110 miles) east of Taiwan just before 9 am, as reported by Taiwan's Central Weather Bureau during a press conference. Deputy director Fong Chin-tzu noted that it had gained strength since the previous day, emphasizing the considerable threat it poses to most areas in Taiwan in terms of winds, rains, and waves. The storm is expected to move westward towards the Taiwan Strait by Monday.
The interior ministry reported that authorities have successfully evacuated more than 2,800 people across seven cities in Taiwan, with the majority coming from the mountainous county of Hualien, adjacent to Taitung.
On Sunday morning, Hualien's streets were empty, battered by continuous heavy rain under dark skies. The military has been mobilized, deploying soldiers and equipment, including amphibious vehicles and inflatable rubber boats, to regions where Haikui is expected to have the most significant impact.
The last major storm to hit Taiwan was Typhoon Bailu in 2019, which resulted in one fatality. Haikui is predicted to be less severe than Typhoon Saola, which did not directly impact Taiwan but triggered the highest threat level in nearby Hong Kong and southern China before weakening into a tropical storm by Saturday.