Typhoon Matmo batters Taiwan

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iol pic wld_TAIWAN-TYPHOON-_0723_11 Reuters A woman holds her umbrella while walking against strong winds as Typhoon Matmo lashes Taipei, Taiwan. Picture: Pichi Chuang

Taipei -

Typhoon Matmo pounded Taiwan with fierce winds and downpours on Wednesday, leaving five people injured, shuttering financial markets, and interrupting rail and air transportation.

Matmo, packing gusts of up to 173km/h, slammed into the east overnight, becoming the first tropical storm to make landfall on the island this year, the Central Weather Bureau said.

The storm's powerful winds tore off roofs and uprooted trees, including one in Taipei that crashed into a taxi, injuring its driver and a passenger.

Three other people were also injured in the capital.

Typhoon Matmo had slightly weakened before it crossed the island to enter the Taiwan Strait and head for China's south-eastern Fujian province on Wednesday morning.

It was located around 70km west-northwest of the central Taichung city at 00h00 GMT, according to the Central Weather Bureau.

Financial markets, offices and schools were shut down due to the typhoon, which also led to the cancellation of 171 international and 24 domestic flights, and the interruption of all rail services to and from the east.

More than 500 residents living in the mountainous areas prone to landslides were evacuated.

Around 5 400 tourists were evacuated from Green Island and Orchid Island, two popular scenic spots off the south-eastern Taitung county, on Tuesday.

The local government said shipping services between the two islets and Taitung had been suspended from Tuesday for three days.

Last year, Taiwan was battered by Typhoon Soulik, whose torrential rains and powerful winds left two people dead and at least 100 injured. - Sapa-AFP



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