Taipei, July 21 (CNA) Taiwan's military, fire departments and railway and highway administrations stepped up their precautionary measures on Monday as Typhoon Matmo approached the country.
Taiwan's Directorate General of Highways, which set up a response team Monday evening, urged drivers to avoid such highways as Provincial Highway No. 2 between Taipei and Yilan and the Suhua Highway connecting southern Yilan County with Hualien.
The highway bureau said it will continue to update road conditions on its official website: http://www.thb.gov.tw/. Drivers can also access the information in Chinese at http://bobe168.tw/
The Taiwan Railways Administration and Taiwan High Speed Rail Corp. said, meanwhile, that they have stepped up railway patrols and inspections and may suspend services if there are strong winds and rains.
The Taipei City Fire Department has inspected rescue vehicles, boats and other equipment at fire department divisions around the city, it said Monday, in preparation for the storm.
Meanwhile, China Airlines and EVA Airways, Taiwan's two largest carriers, reported no disruptions to normal service as of Monday night and had yet to announce any plans related to the approaching storm.
TransAsia Airways, one of Taiwan's smaller carriers, said its flights will operate normally before 4 p.m. Tuesday and will post any flight changes on its official website.
The Ministry of National Defense said earlier Monday that it has placed more than 47,000 servicemen on standby to provide relief and rescue assistance as needed.
A total of 22 helicopters, one transport plane, six AAV-7 amphibious assault vehicles and four V-150 commandos are also ready to be deployed where needed, the ministry said.
As of 8:30 p.m. Monday, the storm was centered 600 kilometers southeast of Eluanbi, the southernmost tip of Taiwan, moving north-northwest at a speed of 23 km per hour.
Matmo, expected to be the first typhoon to directly hit Taiwan this year, was packing sustained winds of 126 kph, with gusts reaching 162 kph, according to the weather bureau.
Matmo means "heavy rain" in the Chamorro language, spoken by the indigenous peoples of the Mariana Islands.
(By Angela Tsai and Christie Chen)ENDITEM/ls