Typhoon Haikui is set to directly hit Taiwan, making it the first typhoon to do so in four years, announced Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen on Sunday. As the storm approaches, nearly 3,000 people have been evacuated from high-risk areas in eastern Taiwan.
Haikui currently boasts a sustained wind speed of approximately 140 kilometers per hour. It is expected to make landfall in Taiwan’s eastern Taitung area by 5:00 pm (0900 GMT). In preparation for the storm, schools and offices in the southern and eastern regions of the island have been closed, and more than 200 domestic flights have been canceled.
The storm, which had already brought heavy rains by Sunday morning, is situated about 180 kilometers (110 miles) east of Taiwan as of 9:00 am, according to Taiwan’s Central Weather Bureau. Deputy director Fong Chin-tzu emphasized the need for the public to remain vigilant, as Haikui has gained strength and poses a considerable threat with strong winds, heavy rains, and high waves. The storm is expected to move west toward the Taiwan Strait by Monday.
Authorities have taken evacuation measures, relocating over 2,800 individuals across seven cities in Taiwan, primarily from the mountainous county of Hualien, which borders Taitung. In Hualien, streets were empty, drenched in relentless torrential rain under overcast skies.
The military has also been mobilized, deploying soldiers and equipment, including amphibious vehicles and inflatable rubber boats, to areas of Taiwan that are likely to be most affected by Typhoon Haikui.
The last major storm to impact Taiwan was Typhoon Bailu in 2019, which resulted in one fatality. Although Haikui is expected to be less severe than Typhoon Saola, which bypassed Taiwan and weakened into a tropical storm by Saturday, it is still considered a significant weather event for the island.
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