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TAIPEI, Taiwan – Strong winds felled trees and scattered construction debris that injured dozens of people Tuesday as a large typhoon crossed over Taiwan.
Typhoon Megi's bands of heavy rain and 162-kilometers- (100 miles-) per-hour sustained winds had blanketed the island by 3 p.m. as the eye of the storm reached Hualien county on the east coast. Authorities had raised alert levels for the island prone to landslides and flooding, said National Fire Agency Director-General Chen Wen-lung.
Most of the 52 people injured were on the east coast and in the central city of Taichung. Fallen trees and wind-blown objects such as construction site scaffolding caused many of the injuries, said Lee Wei-sen, a spokesman for Taiwan's Central Emergency Operations Center.
Rainfall had topped 300 millimeters (12 inches) in the mountains of south and eastern Taiwan by midday.
Megi is 500 kilometers (310 miles) in diameter and is expected to pass over the island's steep central mountain range later.
"The rainfall problem will get increasingly severe as the storm passes over," Lee said. "We've got to see whether the amount of rain has a big impact. The only good news is that it's moving fast on its way over Taiwan."
More than 8,000 people had been evacuated, mostly from mountainous areas at risk of landslides or floods. About 2,800 went to shelters, Chen said.
More than 1 million households lost power, though 244,000 had been restored by 2 p.m.
More than 121 flights were delayed and 253 canceled at Taiwan's Taoyuan International Airport, and seven were diverted to other airports. Authorities had closed schools, offices and most of Taiwan's railway system.
Megi is the fourth typhoon of the year to hit Taiwan.
On the Chinese coast, about 160 kilometers (100 miles) from Taiwan at its nearest point, fishing boats were ordered back to port, the country's official Xinhua News Agency said. It said the typhoon was expected to reach Guangdong province and Fujian province Wednesday morning, bringing as much as 400 mm of rain to parts of Fujian.