Typhoon Utor hits Taiwan causing widespread chaos

Hsieh Kuo-lien, The China Post

Typhoon Utor is expected to bring strong winds and heavy rainfall to Taiwan this morning and will leave in the afternoon. It has already caused one death, with two injured and seven fishermen missing.

As of press time, governments of Tainan, Kaohsiung, Pingtung and Penghu counties, as well as Tainan and Kaohsiung Cities, announced government offices and schools in the areas would be suspended today. Taitung County government and schools in the eastern county would be suspended this morning. Officials from the governments of Keelung and Chiayi Cities, as well as Ilan, Nantou, Chiayi and Lienchiang Counties have yet to announce their decisions, while government service and school activities in other areas in Taiwan would not be affected by the typhoon. An official with the Cabinet-level Council of Agriculture told reporters that a Pingtung-based fishing boat, named “Sheng Yu Hsing,” sent out a distress call to the fishery radio station in Tungkang at around 010 a.m. yesterday, before it went missing. The boat was sailing close to the Philippines’s Babuyan Island.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has asked the Philippines’ coast guard to help search for the two Taiwan and five mainland Chinese fishermen aboard the fishing boat. The family of the boat’s captain Chen Chin-fu said Chen had telephoned them at around 1115 p.m. Tuesday, saying that the weather condition in the area was unmerciful and he was trying to anchor his boat in the nearest port.

ROC Navy and coast guard, who are ready to depart for the area, will begin the rescue mission soon after Utor leaves. Some 450 Taiwan fishing boats, with about 5,385 mainland Chinese fishermen aboard, were allowed yesterday to enter ports around Taiwan to seek shelter from the tropical storm.

A worker, Huang Yueh-hua, fell into a Hualien dock yesterday when she was cleaning up a pile of dirt. Meanwhile, a falling metal object cut a Penghu man’s face while a Hualien man fell in strong winds when both were working in strong winds. Yesterday, many domestic flights among cities in Taiwan or between Taiwan and offshore islands were canceled, while sea transportation service between Taiwan and the remove islands were also suspended. Because of the suspension of the flights and sea transportation between Taitung and Orchid and Green Islands, more than 1,000 tourists who have stayed for two days on Orchid Island and some 60 others on Green Island, yesterday remained unable to leave the two islands lying off Taiwan’s southeastern coast.

An official with the Taiwan Railway Administration told reporters that the railway transportation service became unavailable separately since yesterday afternoon.

Strong winds and heavy rains yesterday raged through Green and Orchid Islands, Pingtung, southern Taiwan, and Taitung, eastern Taiwan.

Meteorologists with the Central Weather Bureau predicted that Utor will completely leave Taiwan this afternoon.

They said at 805 p.m. yesterday Utor’s center was close to the northern tip of the Philippines’s Luzon Island, about 330 kilometers south of Taiwan’s southern township of Oluanpi.

With a 350-kilometer radius, Utor is packing maximum winds of 38 meters per second with gusts of up to 48 meters per second. Its center will arrive at a point 310 kilometers northwest of Pratas Island at around 8:00 p.m. today.

Utor has been traveling at a speed of 30 kilometers per hour.