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Taiwan braces for typhoon, markets shut Monday
Updated: 2005-07-18 09:52

TAIPEI - Taiwan braced for the powerful typhoon Haitang on Sunday, ordering schools, government offices and financial markets to close on Monday as the storm bore down on the island's northeast coast.

Water whippped up by Typhoon Haitang hits the shore of Taiwan's northern coast near Keelung, July 17, 2005. Financial markets and schools were to close Monday in Taiwan as the island braced for Typhoon Haitang with weathermen warning it would bring torrential rains and strong winds. [AFP]
The Central Weather Bureau issued a land warning for flash floods and landslides, advising people to secure loose objects outdoors and avoid trips to the mountains or the seaside.

The Taipei city government declared the city would be closed for business on Monday, shutting the island's financial markets as well. Most local governments in the north and east made similar announcements.

With maximum sustained winds of 191 km/h (119 mph) and gusts of up to 234 km/h (145 mph), Haitang had weakened to a Category 4 storm from the maximum Category 5, but remains highly dangerous.

By 1100 GMT, the typhoon's center was about 270 km (168 miles) east-southeast of Taiwan's eastern coastal city of Hualien, and slowed down as it headed northwest at 13 km/h (8 mph).

Haitang is expected to sweep over the island between Sunday and Monday before heading toward the Chinese mainland if it stays on its present course. The weather bureau's forecasts show Haitang's eye passing slightly south of Taipei.

In 2001, one of Taiwan's deadliest years for storms, Typhoon Toraji killed 200 people. A few months later, Typhoon Nari caused Taipei's worst flooding on record and killed 100.

Typhoons gather strength from warm sea waters and tend to dissipate after making landfall, frequently hitting Taiwan, Japan, the Philippines, Hong Kong and southern Chinese mainland.