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Typhoon Soudelor to Make Direct Hit on Taiwan


As Typhoon Soudelor approaches, fishermen make use of time in port to repair nets in Yilan County, northeastern Taiwan, Thursday, Aug. 6, 2015.

Taiwan authorities closed offices and schools, and thousands of islanders fled to higher ground Friday ahead of the arrival of a massive storm.

Typhoon Soudelor is expected to make a direct hit on Taiwan late Friday or early Saturday, and is already bringing heavy winds and torrential rain to the island.

Officials say at least one person, an eight-year-old girl, has been killed after being swept out to sea. At least one other person is reported to be missing.

As of midday Friday, the storm had winds of up to 173 kilometers near its center. Forecasters say the storm could strengthen before making landfall.

Many flights into and out of the island have been canceled. Ferry services have also been suspended and officials have set up a barrier to prevent tourists and others from nearing the beach.

Authorities have prepared evacuation centers for tens of thousands of people and at least 32,000 soldiers have been placed on standby for emergency disaster relief.

Earlier this week, forecasters declared Soudelor to be the world's strongest typhoon this year, though it later weakened.

Still, authorities are warning the storm's heavy winds and torrential rain could bring dangerous floods, landslides and intense storm surges.