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Typhoon thrashes Taiwan

August 2, 2012

Driving rain and high winds from Typhoon Saola lashed Taiwan on Thursday, killing at least six people and forcing nearly the entire island to shut down. This comes after the storm walloped the Philippines.

Tourists brave winds and rain from the approaching Typhoon Saola in Taipei, Taiwan, Wednesday, Aug. 1, 2012.
Image: AP

The storm first made landfall in Taiwan at before dawn on Thursday near the city of Hualien on Taiwan's eastern coast, with sustained winds of 118 kilometers (73 miles) per hour and gusts of 155 kilometers per hour. After weakening into a tropical storm, it then made a second landfall in the country's northeast, Taiwan's Central Weather Bureau said.

Saola did not make landfall in the Philippines but has wreaked havoc across the island group since Saturday, where it killed at least 23 people. More than 2,700 homes were damaged or destroyed in the Philippines, the Philippine Office of Civil Defense said. More than 12,000 victims had been placed in evacuation centers, it said.

Mudslides in Taiwan

In Taiwan, Saola's heavy rains touched off widespread mudslides. Authorities were forced to evacuate more than 1,500 people throughout the island. Television images showed mudslides engulfing roads and farmland while threatening homes.

The Taiwanese defense ministry, which had put more than 45,000 soldiers on standby, mobilized amphibious vehicles to rescue residents trapped by chest-high water in northeastern Ilan county.

Taifun in Taiwan # taiwan15d # 02.08.2012 15 Uhr # Journal Englisch

More than 50,000 homes were without power and nearly 7,000 homes were without water, according to the Central Emergency Operation Center.

The Central Weather Bureau said the storm could continue to have an impact into the weekend.

The first named storm to hit Taiwan this year, Saola was 60 kilometers (37 miles) north of the capital Taipei as of 11:15 a.m. GMT on Thursday, moving northwest toward the Chinese mainland.

bm/ipj (AFP, dpa)