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Taiwan prepares for Typhoon Saola

2012/07/31 18:14:32

Taipei, July 31 (CNA) Offices and schools on Taiwan's outlying Orchid Island were closed on Tuesday, as the country braced for the arrival of Typhoon Saola.

As of 2 p.m., the typhoon was centered 350 kilometers east of the southern tip of Taiwan, according to the Central Weather Bureau, but it was already generating gusts on Tuesday morning of 115 kph on the outlying island, which lies about 70 km off Taiwan's southeastern coast.

A sea warning for the typhoon, which was moving north-northeast at a relatively slow 8 kph, has been in place since Monday night, along with warnings for downpours across the country.

The Yilan International Children's Folklore and Folkgame Festival and the Taipingshan National Forest Recreation Area in the northeastern county of Yilan were both closed for the day Tuesday.

A county official was flushed into the Luodong River in his car when inspecting the area, local police said, but he successfully made it out of his car.

The Council of Agriculture also announced the activation of its landslide monitoring and emergency notification system and asked people not to visit forest parks or go hiking in the mountains.

Traffic on Highway No. 8, which goes through Taroko National Park in Hualien County, are closely monitored because of falling rocks following downpours, according to the Directorate General of Highways.

Highway authorities said traffic control measures are in place in the section of the road near the Tianxiang Tunnel until Aug. 2, and they urged drivers to avoid entering mountain areas.

The Ministry of National Defense said 47,845 soldiers, 387 water pumps, and military vehicles and aircraft were on standby as of Tuesday morning to meet any disaster relief contingencies.

The Department of Health announced that the country's six regional emergency operations centers are ready to coordinate medical resources for people in need, and asked medical facilities to be prepared for possible flooding.

Meanwhile, administrators of the Shihmen Reservoir in Taoyuan County said that after around 80 millimeters of rain on Tuesday, the water level at the reservoir was 241 meters, just four meters short of the full level.

They were planning to discharge some of the reservoir's water beginning at 5 p.m. Tuesday.

(By Tyson Lu, Worthy Shen, Andrew Liu, Yang Su-min, Chen
Chen Ching-fang, Biee Chen-feng and Kay Liu)