IBTimes UK

Hundreds of people have been evacuated and nearly 200,000 households were without power across Taiwan as super typhoon Meranti hit the island on Wednesday morning, forcing flights to be cancelled and schools and other institutions to close.

With current gusts of up to 230 mph (370 kph), the authorities said Meranti is the strongest typhoon since Super Typhoon Haiyan that devastated the Philippines in 2013 and is the strongest storm to come this close to Taiwan since 1959.

The Central Weather Bureau of Taiwan marked Meranti as the Category 5 storm and warned that it would threaten several southern and eastern cities, including Kaohsiung and Hualien, with strong winds, torrential rain and flooding.

The weather bureau spokeswoman Hsieh Pei-yun said Meranti is the world's strongest typhoon so far this year.

"Its impact on Taiwan will peak all day today," Hsieh Pei-yun told CNN.

The Central Emergency Operation Centre said dozens of flights have been cancelled including all of those from Kaohsiung airport, where international flights were also severely affected.

Schools and offices have also been closed in Kaohsiung and other cities.

The operation centre also added that around 1,500 people had been evacuated from the affected areas.

The authorities have deployed almost 4,000 military and police personnel to the region to prepare for potential future evacuations. But the officials are not expecting major damage or destruction.

The meteorologists said Taiwan will feel the full force of the typhoon through Wednesday while on Thursday the storm will track through towards the northwest and move into China.

Experts said Meranti is expected to cause landslide in southern Chinese provinces of Guangdong and Fujian on Thursday.

Taiwan is a frequent target for powerful Pacific typhoons. In July, deadly typhoon Nepartek damaged houses in the island, forcing thousands to flee their homes across central and southern areas of Taiwan.

In 2009, Typhoon Morakot created destruction through southern Taiwan, causing up to US$3 billion (S$4.1 billion) of damage and killed almost 700 people.

IBTimes UK