Powerful Typhoon Sepat Heads for Taiwan

Taiwanese stocked up on food and emergency supplies Friday in preparation for Typhoon Sepat, the most powerful storm to threaten the island this year.

The Central Weather Bureau warned the storm could make landfall over southeastern Taiwan on Saturday morning if it stays on its current course.

Authorities in the coastal cities of Hualien and Taidung closed schools and ordered workers home Friday afternoon. Emergency personnel stacked sandbags along flood-prone river banks in the western county of Yunlin.

Taiwanese airlines said they were canceling most domestic flights from Taipei's Songshan airport on Friday afternoon and evening, but international service at Taoyuan airport in a suburb of the capital was operating normally.

Typhoon Sepat — the Malaysian word for a fresh water fish — had sustained winds of 114 miles early Friday.

South of Taiwan, schools in the Philippines capital of Manila and seven nearby provinces were closed, while some government offices sent their workers home early due to the residual effects of the storm, officials said.

More than 1,000 people were evacuated from flooded villages in northern Pampanga province, where 70 houses were damaged. Twenty towns in Pampanga were under water, affecting 372,000 residents, the National Disaster Coordinating Council said.

A boat bound for northern Calayan island was stranded in the coastal town of Aparri with 70 passengers, the NDCC said.