by Staff Writers
Ilan, Taiwan (AFP) Aug 2, 2012
Typhoon Saola reached Taiwan early Thursday, causing nearly the entire island to close down and bringing torrential rains that could linger until next week, officials said.
The slow-moving typhoon, which caused the deaths of at least 14 in the Philippines, made landfall near the eastern coast city of Hualien at 3:20 am (1920 GMT Wednesday), according to the Central Weather Bureau.
As many residents across the island woke up to see their neighborhoods covered in ankle-deep water, classes and work were suspended everywhere, except for Taidong county in the southeast.
The typhoon, packing winds of up to 155 kilometres (97 miles) an hour, left toppled trees covering streets and hampering traffic in several places in Taipei.
The centre of the typhoon moved back out to sea at about 7:00 am, the bureau said, adding it remained to be seen if it would make a second landfall later in the day.
Authorities evacuated nearly 600 residents from New Taipei City in the north and as many from the eastern counties of Ilan and Hualien, which look set to bear the brunt of the typhoon.
About 30,000 households were without electricity for several hours, but by 9:30 am, power had been restored to all but 5,000 homes, the Central News Agency reported.
Financial markets were closed because of the typhoon.
The bureau said the typhoon would continue to have an impact into the weekend, and that winds following in its wake could cause heavy rainfall in the island's south next week.
As of 10 am, Saola was 60 kilometres (38 miles) northeast of Hualien, moving northwest at a speed of up to 18 kilometres (10 miles) and hour.
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