TAIPEI: Typhoon Aere lashed northern Taiwan yesterday, closing schools, grounding flights to North-east Asia and dumping rain that threatened to cause deadly flash floods and landslides. Rough seas have killed five fishermen in Taiwan and two children in Japan, officials said.
The domestic airport here shut down after a jetliner carrying about 100 passengers slid off the runway while landing in heavy wind and rain, officials said. No one was injured on the Far Eastern Air Transport flight, the airline said.
Aere's eye was originally expected to pass over Taipei, but the storm changed course slightly and was whirling just north of Taiwan's northern tip, the Central Weather Bureau said. But the typhoon's outer winds were expected to sweep over half of the leaf-shaped island, drenching soggy mountain slopes prone to mudslides.
The storm was also expected to churn past the busy port of Keelung as well as Hsinchu home to Taiwan's world-leading chip-making companies before roaring west to China, the bureau said.
Packing winds of 130kph, Aere was 220km east of Taiwan yesterday afternoon, the bureau said. Gusts were hitting 165kph.
Some areas recorded 57cm of rain in the past 24 hours, the bureau said.
As sheets of rain soaked the capital, schools, offices and financial markets closed. Shopkeepers put tape on their windows, and people parked their cars on highway overpasses and bridges, protecting them from flash flooding that has swamped vehicles in the past.
High waves capsized a Keelung-bound fishing boat from Hong Kong on Monday, the coast guard said. Three fishermen from mainland China were washed away, while the captain, from Hong Kong, was rescued but died later in a hospital, officials said.
Another fisherman died off the southern coast on Sunday when his small boat flipped over in rough seas whipped up by Aere.
Japanese coast guard officials said yesterday that high waves swept away two sisters, ages 12 and seven, who were swimming near Japan's southern Amami-Oshima islands. Their bodies were recovered late on Monday, the coast guard said.
Officials at Taipei's international airport said flights to South-East Asia were still operating, but some to North-east Asia were grounded. AP