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Saturday, August 8, 2015, 18:37

Fujian on highest typhoon alert, 158,000 evacuated

By Agencies

Fujian on highest typhoon alert, 158,000 evacuated
Behind fallen trees, a man braves the strong winds from Typhoon Soudelor with his bicycle in Taipei, Taiwan , Aug 8, 2015. (AP Photo/Wally Santana)

Fujian province in East China on Saturday issued its highest typhoon alert as super typhoon Soudelor approaches southeast China's coastal provinces.

The typhoon, expected to land between the cities of Jinjiang and Fuqing Saturday evening, will pose a serious threat to Fujian, the provincial meteorological station said.

Flights to the provincial capital Fuzhou, which is being battered by heavy rain and strong wind, have been canceled. About 100 trains running through the city of Xiamen have suspended services. The airport in the city of Quanzhou has also canceled its flights.

More than 7,000 soldiers and police were on standby, provincial authorities said.

About 158,000 people in the province have been evacuated.

Neighboring Jiangxi province also issued a typhoon alert and suspended some trains as torrential rain is expected to drench the province.

China has a four-tier warning system for severe weather, with red being the most serious, followed by orange, yellow and blue. The National Meteorological Center first issued a yellow alert for the typhoon on Thursday morning and changed it to orange on Thursday night.

Fujian on highest typhoon alert, 158,000 evacuated
Fishing boats returned to a port in Fuzhou, capital of Southeast China's Fujian province on Aug 8, 2015 as Typhoon Soudelou is expected to make landfall in the province later on the day. (Xinhua photo)

Soudelor battered Taiwan earlier Saturday, killing at least six people, downing trees, traffic lights and power lines on the island.

A total of 101 people were hurt while four missing in Taiwan and more than 3 million households lost electricity as the powerful storm left streets strewn with fallen trees. All 279 domestic flights were canceled Saturday, as well as at least 37 international flights.

An 8-year-old girl and her mother died when they were swept out to sea Thursday from a beach on the east coast, the official Central News Agency reported. The girl's twin sister remains missing.

Other casualties included a firefighter who was killed and another injured after being hit by a drunken driver as they attempted to move a fallen tree in the island's south.

The center of the storm made landfall in eastern Taiwan at 4:40 am Saturday. By mid-morning, Soudelor was packing maximum sustained winds of 162 kilometers (100 miles) per hour, Taiwan's Central Weather Bureau said.

The typhoon weakened later Saturday with top winds of up to 144 kph (89 mph) while moving away from the island in a northwesterly direction.

Strong winds and heavy rains were still expected to continue in Taiwan.

On Friday afternoon, marine police rescued 55 university students and teachers trapped on a small island where they had been attending a summer camp, after strong gales stopped ferry services, China's official Xinhua News Agency reported.

Soudelor has drawn comparisons with 2009's Typhoon Morakot, which cut a wide path of destruction over southern Taiwan, leaving about 700 people dead or missing and causing $3 billion worth of damage.

Typhoons are common at this time of year in the South China Sea and Pacific, picking up strength from warm waters before losing strength over land.

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