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Typhoon Sinlaku Nears Taiwan - 2002-09-06

As Typhoon Sinlaku nears northern Taiwan, Taipei's stock market, offices and schools shut down. Although forecasters do not anticipate a direct hit from the storm, rain and high winds are expected to intensify overnight.

The storm's winds are gusting up to 145 kilometers an hour. The typhoon's eye is expected to pass north of the island before veering south and heading for mainland China.

Daniel Wu, the deputy director at the Taiwan Central Weather Bureau's Forecasting Center, said Taipei will see the worst of the storm late Friday night and early Saturday morning. "Well, most parts of the typhoon will [be] passing through northern Taiwan," he said. "But the center of the storm may not land. It will pass very close to the sea, north of Taiwan, most of the time it will move west."

Most cities in northern Taiwan canceled school while some airports halted domestic flights. On Friday afternoon international flights to and from Taipei were still running as scheduled.

Residents in low-lying areas took extra precautions, piling up sandbags and removing valuables to higher ground. Only about a year ago another slow moving storm caused floods and landslides that killed almost 200 people.

Sinlaku caused blackouts and flooding Thursday after it swept straight over Japan's Okinawan islands. At least 29 people were injured, many caught in collapsed homes. A Philippine registered ship and its five sailors is missing in seas off Okinawa after sending out a distress signal early Thursday.

Sinlaku comes just a week after Typhoon Rusa battered South Korea, triggering flooding and leaving 184 people dead or missing.