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Taiwan deploys 50,000 troops as typhoon hits
by Staff Writers
Kaohsiung, Taiwan (AFP) Aug 29, 2011

Taiwan deployed more than 50,000 troops on Monday and evacuated thousands of people as Typhoon Nanmadol pummelled some of the island's most densely populated areas.

Soldiers moved in to help flood-threatened residents, a motorcyclist was reported killed, and in one remote area more than 300 villagers were trapped by landslides.

The typhoon, which left at least 16 dead in the Philippines at the weekend, made landfall near the city of Taitung on the east coast of Taiwan in the early hours of Monday, according to the Central Weather Bureau.

"This is the worst typhoon to hit Taiwan since Morakot," which left more than 700 people dead or missing in 2009, a bureau official said.

A motorcyclist was killed in north Taiwan's Chungli city, after strong winds smashed a window on the fourth floor of a building, causing shards of glass to fall to the ground level, according to cable network Eastern Television.

An official at the Central Emergency Operation Centre could not immediately confirm the report.

The typhoon was downgraded to a tropical storm while slowly moving northwest, packing winds of 90 kilometres (54 miles) per hour, down from earlier high speeds of 137kph.

It was 30 kilometres southeast of the Penghu island group in the middle of the Taiwan Straits as of 1000 GMT, the weather bureau said.

Across the island, authorities moved more than 8,000 people to safer places, according to the emergency centre, which said more than 50,000 troops were deployed.

"We haven't evacuated that many people since Morakot," an official at the centre said.

An AFP photographer witnessing the storm's impact in southern Taiwan observed several trucks packed with full loads of soldiers in the course of the day.

TV footage showed soldiers walking through village streets in Pingtung county in southern Taiwan, helping people from homes threatened by flooding and putting them on military trucks.

The defence ministry also said it sent two C-130 transport planes to rescue 140 tourists and servicemen marooned on the offshore island of Matsu.

More than 300 people were trapped by landslides in Wutai, a remote village in Pingtung county, the emergency centre said, adding all villagers were safe.

The typhoon brought torrential rain and some parts of Taiwan had received more than 500 millimetres since early Sunday.

The weather bureau urged the public to stay away from mountainous and low-lying areas due to the threat of flash floods and landslides.

The Soil and Water Conservation Bureau had issued landslide warnings for more than 300 areas.

The Taiwan Railway Administration suspended services on two rail lines from Taitung, the city where the typhoon had made landfall.

Businesses were closed in seven cities and counties in the south of Taiwan, and in all but two of the island's counties, classes were also cancelled at all schools.

Electricity was cut to more than 20,000 households, according to the emergency centre.

Damage caused to the agricultural sector was estimated at Tw$23 million ($800,000), the Council of Agriculture said.

Attention was also turned towards China, with the storm gradually grinding its way across the Taiwan Straits.

Southeast China's Fujian province called more than 25,000 fishing boats to port Sunday, amid warnings that moderate to heavy downpours would hit coastal areas from Monday morning, the official Xinhua news agency reported.

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Super-typhoon leaves 13 dead in Philippines
Manila (AFP) Aug 29, 2011
Super-typhoon Nanmadol left at least 13 people dead after hitting the Philippines, and the toll is expected to rise as hopes of finding those missing fade, the civil defence chief said Monday. Over 61,000 people are still evacuated from their homes after Nanmadol, the strongest storm to hit the country this year, lashed the northern edge of the main island of Luzon on the weekend, causing la ... read more

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