Typhoon Megi approaches landfall in Taiwan; thousands evacuated

Authorities say more than 3,700 tourists had already been evacuated from tourist spots.

Typhoon Megi, a category 3 equivalent typhoon in the western Pacific Ocean, has forced Taiwan to shutdown on Tuesday with thousands evacuated, schools and offices closed across the island and hundreds of flights disrupted.

According to reports, Typhoon Megi is expected to cause landfall in eastern Taiwan. The typhoon has already brought violent winds and torrential rainfall as it is approaching the island.

The Central Emergency Operation Center said more than 5,000 people have been evacuated from their homes and around 2,000 are in shelters. So far, almost 36,000 households are without power due to Megi, the third typhoon in two weeks in Taiwan.

On Tuesday morning, nearly 575 international and domestic flights were cancelled as a safety measure while 109 were delayed. The train services were also stopped.

According to Taiwan's weather bureau, Megi is moving at 18 kilometres (11.2 miles) an hour speed which is slower than it was previously forecasted. This speed is delaying the time of landfall to around 0900 GMT on Tuesday.

Initially, at 0030 GMT, the typhoon was approaching at a speed of 220 kilometres (137 miles) southeast of the eastern county of Hualien. Megi was packed up with gusts of up to 198 kilometres (123 miles) per hour.

Several television footages showed strong waves rushing past breakwaters in northeastern Yilan county and outlying Orchid Island.

More than 3,700 tourists had already been evacuated at the weekend from Orchid Island and Green Island, two popular tourist spots, ahead of the strong typhoon.

Authorities said two other famous visitor spots, Hualien and Taitung, will be on the target list of Typhoon Megi.

Earlier this month, Super Typhoon Meranti, the strongest storm for 21 years to hit Taiwan, caused heavy damage to the island nation. While those areas are still trying to recover from damage, Taiwan braces for Megi.

Typhoon Meranti, killed one person in Taiwan before killing another 28 in eastern China. But it was again followed closely by the relatively smaller Typhoon Malakas.

Taiwan is a frequent target for powerful Pacific typhoons.

Experts said the mountainous regions in eastern Taiwan could see a total of up to 900 millimetres (35 inches) of rain through Wednesday which eventually will increase the risk of landslides.

The government has listed more than 35,000 soldiers who are on standby to help with disaster relief.

Typhoons are quite common at this time of the year as they pick up strength while they cross the warm waters of the Pacific. As a result of this, the storms bring fierce winds and rainfall when they hit the land.