A powerful typhoon packed with heavy rain and strong winds has ripped through Taiwan, bringing the island to a standstill.
Super Typhoon Meranti, the strongest storm in the world so far this year, left tens of thousands of homes across Taiwan without power on Wednesday.
The powerful storm forced the closure of companies and schools in Kaohsiung and other cities and the evacuation of almost 1,500 residents, the Taiwanese Central Emergency Operation Center said in a statement.
Taiwan’s Central Weather Bureau had warned that the Category-5 storm would hit several southern and eastern cities, including Kaohsiung and Hualien, with strong winds, torrential rain and flooding.
According to meteorologists, Meranti, which grew in strength as it neared Taiwan, was carrying winds with a maximum speed of 216 kilometers per hour.
They said Taiwan will feel the full force of the typhoon through Wednesday and into Thursday before it makes landfall on China.
The township of Hengchun’s observation station recorded the strongest winds in its 120-year history earlier Wednesday, according to Taiwan’s Central Weather Bureau.
Cars drive past collapsed power lines, which have partially blocked the road, as Super Typhoon Meranti skirts Pingtung County in southern Taiwan, September 14, 2016. (Photo by AFP)
Meranti is expected to make landfall in the southern Chinese provinces of Guangdong and Fujian on Thursday, where officials have ordered train services to be cancelled and are preparing to evacuate people.
Typhoon Meranti comes just over two months after Typhoon Nepartak cut power, grounded flights and forced thousands to flee their homes across the central and southern areas of Taiwan.
In 2009, Typhoon Morakot devastated southern Taiwan, killing about 700 people and causing more than three billion dollars in damage.
Massive Super Typhoon Meranti is now bearing down on Taiwan and mainland China - expected to bring heavy rains and gusts of up to 360km/h.
CNN reported that it has grown to a monster Category 5, barrelling towards the southern tip of Taiwan.
Southern Taiwan, which is expected to face winds greater than 120km/h tonight NZT, hasn't been hit by such a major typhoon since 1959.
It's the strongest storm in the world since Super Typhoon Haiyan destroyed areas of the Philippines in 2013. Haiyan left more than 6000 people dead.
The International Business Timesreports the storm is wider than the nation, which is only about 370km-long.
"This puts Meranti in the elite pantheon of the deepest tropical cyclones ever recorded anywhere on Earth," Jeff Masters wrote for Weather Underground.
The Weather Channel reported that schools and offices in several municipalities in southern Taiwan and some eastern areas would be closed today. Those include Kaohsiung City and Pingtung, Hualien, Taitung and Penghu counties.
Flight and train schedules were cancelled as the first rain bands arrived in the country today and a thousand households reported power outages.
Meranti is expected to strike Hong Kong and mainland China with winds around 210km/h, or the equivalent of a Category 4 hurricane.
The International Business Times reports that global warming has fuelled the destructive power of tropical cyclones in east and southeast Asia in recent years, according to a study from the Joint Typhoon Warning Centre in the US and the Japan Meteorological Agency.