Typhoon Morakot made landfall in Hualien County in central Taiwan late on August 7, 2009 as a strong Category 1 typhoon with sustained winds of around 92 mph (148 kmph), leaving at least 14 people dead and triggering the worst flooding in 50 years in some parts of the islands. Morakot was a slow moving storm as it made landfall in Taiwan, and it was so large it encompassed the entire island. Morakot dumped a record 2.5 meters (100 inches) of rainfall over parts of the island, forcing the government to deploy the military to rescue stranded residents, officials said. Rescue teams are still searching for more than 50 people registered as missing. In addition to the dead and missing, another 32 people were injured as Morakot pounded the island with powerful winds that swayed high-rise buildings. The typhoon tracked west-northwest over Taiwan and weakened into a tropical storm before hitting China and causing more disruption there.
Morakot caused severe flooding in Taiwan, particularly across southern and eastern regions where damage to infrastructure and property was reported. Widespread floods and mudslides disrupted road and rail traffic, cut off power and water supplies and brought down bridges across Taiwan. More than 900,000 properties lost power across the island and 850,000 homes were without water, according to reports. Taiwan’s Central Weather Bureau described the flooding in Pingtung and Taitung as the worst since 1959, when a typhoon hit the island and killed more than 600 people. Reports said tens of thousands of people were cut off in the counties of Pingtung, Tainan and Chiayi as floodwaters reached 7 feet (2.1 meters) deep in places. In Chihpen (Taitung County), one of Taiwan’s most famous hot spring resorts, the six-storey Jinshuai hotel collapsed after floodwaters undermined its foundations. Staff and guests had already been evacuated, reports said.
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The Central Disaster Emergency Operation Center said a total of 6,300 people were evacuated from their homes in Taiwan. Armored vehicles and marine landing craft, as well as rubber dinghies, were mobilized in a rescue operation involving at least 1,200 troops, the defense ministry said. The storm had a devastating effect on Taiwan’s agriculture and officials estimated damage of at least TWD4.2 billion (USD130 million), with the worst located in seven counties - Kaohsiung, Pingtung, Hualien, Taichung, Tainan, Nantou and Taitung.
Local television reported that 200 homes in the village of Hsiaolin were believed to have been destroyed in a mudslide. Rescuers are being flown in to the village amid reports that up to 200 people could have been buried by the mud. In the southern county of Pingtung, thousands of people were trapped in three coastal townships while a bridge collapsed in Kaohsiung County, cutting off road access to 1,300 residents. In total, officials estimated that 20 bridges were either damaged or washed away. All forms of transport were badly disrupted in Taiwan over the weekend.
After hitting Taiwan, Morakot crossed the Taiwan Strait and made landfall in the Chinese province of Fujian at 16.20 on 9 August local time (08:20 UTC) as a tropical storm, lashing cities in the region with heavy rain and winds of up to 50 mph (83 kmph), weather officials said. Reports said the centre of the storm made landfall in the coastal area of Beibi Town in Xiapu County. Prior to the storm’s arrival, around 1 million people were evacuated from coastal areas in Fujian and Zhejiang Province (505,000 in Fujian and another 490,000 in Zhejiang), and around 35,000 fishing vessels were recalled to port. Zhejiang issued a red alert as wind gusts of around 100 mph (160 kmph) were recorded around the coastal city of Taizhou, reports said. Trees were uprooted as high winds and heavy rain lashed the coast and officials reported that around 2,000 homes were destroyed.
Widespread flooding has been reported in the provinces of Fujian and Zhejiang. More than 3.4 million people in Zhejiang suffered property losses as hundreds of villages were flooded and more than 1,800 houses collapsed, according to the Provincial Flood Control and Drought Relief Headquarters. Government officials expect the typhoon to cause more than 8.5 million yuan (USD1.2 billion) in damages, reports said. One child was reported dead in China.
Morakot’s outer bands also affected the Philippines. Disaster officials in the country said 24 people were killed after the storm caused widespread flooding in northern regions. Authorities said about 73,000 Filipinos were affected by the typhoon.
Sources: Joint Typhoon Warning Center, WSI, Central News Agency, Xinhua News Agency, Taipei Times, Reuters News, Platts Commodity News, Agence France Presse, Associated Press, Xinhua News Agency
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