Typhoon Matmo hits Taiwan

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iol pic wldTaiwan Typhoon Matmo~7 AP A father and son run through strong winds and rain from approaching Typhoon Matmo in Taipei, Taiwan. Picture: Wally Santana

Taipei -

Heavy winds and rain lashed eastern Taiwan on Tuesday after Typhoon Matmo struck the island at approximately 2pm (06.00 GMT), according to the official Central Weather Bureau (CWB).

Local broadcasters carried reports of flooding in Hualien County on the east coast, but the Central Emergency Operations Centre has not yet reported any casualties.

Yilan, Hualien and Taitung Counties on Taiwan's east coast cancelled work and school, with Yilan County announcing that they would remain cancelled on Wednesday.

According to a statement issued by the CWB at 6.15pm (10.15 GMT), the typhoon's centre was located 210 kilometres south-east of Hualien City and was expected to slow from 21 to 18 kilometres per hour as it approached the coast.

The storm was packing maximum gusts of 48 metres per second, the CWB stated, adding that mountainous areas on Taiwan's east coast could face up to 700 millimetres of rainfall before the end of Wednesday.

The CWB forecast that the typhoon would rapidly pass over central Taiwan's Central Mountain Range and reach the coast of China's Fujian Province by 5pm (09.00 GMT) on Wednesday.

The Defense Ministry announced that over 55 000 troops were being mobilised to assist disaster rescue and relief operations, along with 478 water pumping units and 24 aircraft. - Sapa-dpa

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