TAIPEI, Taiwan – Typhoon Kaemi lashed Taiwan with heavy rains and strong winds Tuesday, disrupting traffic and causing power outages before churning across the Taiwan Strait toward southern China, which is still recovering from a storm that killed more than 600.
The seventh storm this season made landfall in Taitung, in southeastern Taiwan, around midnight, and roared toward the Taiwan Strait before dawn through the southwestern county of Chiayi, the Central Weather Bureau said.
Trains resumed service but domestic flights to eastern and southern Taiwan remained halted Tuesday, officials said. Schools and government offices were also shut in large parts of Taiwan except the capital, Taipei, they said.
More than 20,000 households suffered power outages as Kaemi broke dozens of electricity poles along the eastern coast of Hualien, officials said.
Forecasters urged residents to stay alert as the typhoon's outer band was expected to bring heavy rains across Taiwan over the next two days.
The rains caused scattered landslides and swelled several main rivers, but by Tuesday morning no major damage had been reported.
Television footage showed a raging river overwhelming a bridge in mountainous Nantou County in central Taiwan. There were no injuries because residents had been evacuated overnight, officials said.
By midday Tuesday, Kaemi blustered past Penghu Island, about almost 40 miles west of Taiwan, the Central Weather Bureau said. It had weakened slightly with sustained surface winds of 74 mph as it moved toward southern China at a speed of 11 mph, it said.
Kaemi comes on the heels of Tropical Storm Bilis, which pounded southern China starting July 14, triggering flooding and mudslides. At least 612 people were killed, 208 were missing and 3 million were forced from their homes, state media reported Monday.
In preparation for Kaemi, Chinese Vice Premier Hui Liangyu ordered the evacuation of low-lying areas and the return of fishing posts to port, warning the threat was "very severe."
He also ordered officials to closely watch rivers and reservoirs for signs of flooding and keep an eye out for land slides that frequently bury mountain villages, the official Xinhua News Agency reported.
Food, clothing, shelter and medical supplies have also been made ready, and thousands of soldiers placed on standby, Xinhua said.
Kaemi — the Korean word for ant — also forced the closure of schools and government offices in the northern Philippines.