News / Asia

Typhoon Saola Batters Taiwan, Takes Aim at China

A man clears debris near his house flooded by Typhoon Saola in Wujie in Ilan County, Tawian, August 2, 2012.
A man clears debris near his house flooded by Typhoon Saola in Wujie in Ilan County, Tawian, August 2, 2012.
VOA News
Typhoon Saola is moving slowly across Taiwan, dumping torrential rains, triggering landslides, and forcing nearly the entire island to shut down.

Government officials warned residents to stay in their homes Thursday because of the powerful storm, which has already been blamed for four deaths in Taiwan.

Dozens of flights have been cancelled and major financial markets closed because of Saola, which is packing winds of up to 155 kilometers per hour.

Earlier, the storm brushed across the northwestern Philippines, dumping up to a half meter of rainfall and causing widespread flooding that left 23 people dead and thousands homeless.

Edgar Ollet of the National Disaster Coordinating Center in Manila says there is now an increased risk of water-borne diseases such as leptospirosis.

"Usually water-borne diseases are following after heavy downpours of rain. And there are high tides here in metro Manila and a lot of waste and a lot of dead rats, (so) the water is contaminated and many people walk in these contaminated waters," he said.

Ollet says the Philippine military and coast guard are involved in rescue efforts. Close to 180,000 people have already been evacuated from effected areas. The Philippines has put out a heavy rain alert that will continue at least through Friday.

U.S.-based forecaster Jason Nichols says Saola, which should impact China by Friday, is just the first part of a larger series of storms rolling through the region. He says that Typhoon Damrey is already taking aim at southeastern China.

"There's another one to the north, Damrey, that should be making landfall probably about 12 hours ahead of Saola," said Nichols. "Damrey will make impact near Shandong province or a little bit south of there probably in the morning hours [of Friday]."

Though Damrey is a weaker storm with sustained winds of 120-150 kilometers per hour, Chinese leaders are taking no chances. They have issued typhoon warnings for Fujian and Jiangsu provinces.

Beijing's leaders have faced strong criticism for their response to last month's floods in the capital that left dozens dead and many more homeless.

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