Typhoon Aere Lashes Taiwan's Capital
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Posted 24 August 2004 - 07:37 PM
Waves from Typhoon Aere crash against a lighthouse Tuesday morning, Aug. 24, 2004, outside of the eastern port city of Keelung, Taiwan. The typhoon churned toward the capital and other major cities in crowded northern Taiwan on Tuesday, closing schools and financial markets while dumping rain that threatened to cause flash floods and landslides. Rough seas from the storm have killed five fishermen in Taiwan and two children in Japan, officials said. Aere, with winds of 130 kph (80 mph), was 260 kilometers (160 miles) east of Taiwan early Tuesday, the bureau said. Gusts were hitting 165 kph (102 mph). (AP Photo/Wally Santana)
TAIPEI, Taiwan - Typhoon Aere battered northern Taiwan on Tuesday with howling winds and sheets of rain that grounded flights, shut down financial markets and triggered mudslides on the densely populated island. Five fishermen drowned in rough seas in Taiwan.
The typhoon appeared ready to spend another day whirling over Taiwan before heading west to China, so officials in the capital, Taipei, called off schools and closed the stock market for a second straight day on Wednesday.
Giant waves crashed into sea barriers on the northern coast, sending white spray into five stories into the air. Mountain slopes began crumbling in central Taiwan, burying narrow roads with mud, boulders and twisted trees. Streams swelled into roiling rivers the color of dark chocolate.
People were evacuated from villages in central Taiwan that were ravaged just weeks ago by typhoon Mindulle, which killed 29 people.
Some airlines — including United, Korean Air and Japan Asia Airways — canceled flights to cities in Northeast Asia, airport officials said. Taipei's domestic airport shut down after a local Far Eastern Air Transport jetliner skidded off the runway after landing in the blustery weather.
The worst was yet to come, said Tsai Pu-dian, a Central Weather Bureau forecaster said. "Winds and rain would further pick up strength around midnight and early tomorrow morning when the typhoon's center passes over the island," Tsai said.
Aere's center was packing winds of 80 mph and gusts to 102 mph, the weather bureau said. The storm was lumbering along at 6 mph and was about 105 miles northeast of Taiwan's northern tip Monday night.
Rough seas tipped over a Hong Kong fishing boat near Taiwan's northern port of Keelung on Monday, and four fishermen were washed away. Only one was rescued, but he died later in the hospital.
Another fishermen died off the southern coast Sunday when his small boat flipped over in high waves whipped up by Aere, which means "storm" in the language of the Marshall Islands.
Japanese coast guard officials said Tuesday that two sisters, ages 12 and 7, were swept away while swimming near Japan's southern Amami-Oshima islands, east of Taiwan. Their bodies were recovered late Monday, the coast guard said.
Aere knocked over store signs in Taipei, where most of the shops were closed with tape crisscrossing their windows for reinforcement. People parked their cars on highway overpasses and bridges, protecting them from flash flooding that has submerged vehicles in the past.
Some parts of Taiwan recorded 27 inches of rain in the past 36 hours, the weather bureau said.
Although Taiwan has been feuding with China for the past 55 years, the island allows Chinese fishermen to seek refuge on the island during storms. About 200 fishermen from China waited out the storm at one shelter near Keelung's port. Some watched television as others played mahjong or got their hair cut.