A tropical storm is churning its way toward Taiwan after causing hundreds of thousands of people in the Philippines to flee and killing at least five.
Tropical Storm Fung-Wong, which brought torrential monsoon rains that flooded much of the Philippine capital on Friday, gained strength and battered the country's northernmost provinces Saturday with heavy downpours and strong winds.
Taiwan readies for storm
Taiwan on Saturday readied nearly 50,000 troops in preparation for Fung-Wong as it churned toward the island with threats of downpours and powerful winds after claiming five lives in the Philippines.
Three counties in southern Taiwan have decided to close offices and schools from Saturday night while dozens of flights and ferry services were suspended, authorities said.
Uni Air, which canceled 12 domestic flights Saturday, announced that it will suspend all services scheduled for Sunday.
Fung-Wong, which was 200 kilometres (124 miles) south-southwest of Taiwan's southernmost tip at 0900 GMT, was moving north at 17 kilometers per hour and packing gusts of 119 kilometers per hour, according to the Central Weather Bureau.
"Fung-Wong is maintaining its strength and is likely to make landfall in the south on Sunday when its impact will be the strongest. It will bring heavy rains all over Taiwan starting tonight and all day tomorrow, especially in southern parts," the bureau said.
In July, typhoon Matmo pounded Taiwan with fierce winds and downpours, leaving nine people injured while interrupting rail and air transportation.
Gov. Imee Marcos of Ilocos Norte on the northwest section of the main island of Luzon said fierce winds and heavy rains battered her province for more than 12 hours, blowing away roofs, toppling trees and flooding highways.
"I am basically holed up in my bedroom with a generator and several computers and telephones because I can't even cross the street,'' she told The Associated Press Saturday by telephone from the provincial capital of Laoag, about 400 kilometers (290 miles) north of Manila.
"Basically I told everyone to hunker down. There is very little we can do," she said.
First hit on Friday
The storm, with sustained winds of 95 kilometers per hour, hit the northern Philippines Friday, cutting power, flooding fields and tearing the roofs off buildings.
Flood water paralyzed most of the capital, Manila, shutting down the government and disrupting transportation.
Schools remained closed for a second day Saturday.
The national weather service predicts that Fung-Wong will reach Taiwan Sunday.
Layers of thick sludge and debris must be cleared from roads and homes. Many areas are still without power. Hundreds of towns across the country were flooded, with some areas as much as two meters underwater.
Around 200,000 people have been forced out from their homes to stay in shelters, like these, converted schools and public buildings.
The storm expected to leave Philippine territory by Sunday and head toward Taiwan and southern Japan.
Last week, Typhoon Kalmaegi hit the same northern Philippine region, leaving eight people dead and displacing more than 366,000.
Some materials for this report came from Reuters, AFP and AP.