BEIJING (AP) — Taiwan has suspended flights, rail and ferry services, classes, outdoor events and officials have urged workers to stay home as the island prepared for the arrival of Typhoon Haikui later Sunday.
The storm’s approach came as Typhoon Saola continued to weaken as it passed along the Chinese coast, where 900,000 people and 80,000 fishing vessels had been brought to safety and most of Hong Kong and parts of the mainland coastal businesses, transport and schools locks.
However, damage appeared minimal and restrictions were largely lifted by Sunday.
Parts of Taiwan were already feeling the effects of the heavy rain and strong winds in Haikui, and dozens of domestic flights were canceled, as well as air services to Hong Kong and Macao. According to the island’s Meteorological Bureau, the storm had maximum sustained winds of 85 mph, with gusts of up to 110 mph.
The canceled events included a hot air balloon festival in the central Taichung region, several outdoor concerts, art events and a baseball festival. National parks and treacherous roads in the island’s mountainous center were also closed.
Haikui was expected to continue on to China after crossing into Taiwan, and authorities in the Chinese city of Shantou in Guangdong province advised residents to take precautions.
Because of Saoloa, workers in a number of Chinese cities stayed home and students saw the start of their school year postponed from Friday to Monday. Trading in Hong Kong’s stock market was suspended on Friday and hundreds of people were stranded at the airport after about 460 flights were canceled in the main regional business and travel hub.
The cross-border bridge connecting Hong Kong, Macau’s gambling center and Zhuhai’s manufacturing center was closed at one point, with Macau chief Ho Iat Seng ordering a halt to casino operations.
As the storm engulfed the densely populated financial center, the Hong Kong Observatory issued Hurricane Warning No. 10 for the first time since 2018, the highest warning under the city’s weather system.
By Saturday night, however, the observatory had withdrawn all warnings and the hundreds who had taken refuge in prepared facilities returned home.
In recent months, China has experienced the heaviest rainfall and deadliest flooding in years in several regions. Dozens of people have died, including in remote mountainous parts of the capital Beijing.
The Hong Kong government said various departments have received reports of a total of 1,206 trees uprooted and flooding has been reported in 18 areas. It said 75 people visited hospitals with storm-related injuries.
Despite the twin storms, the Chinese military continued to conduct operations designed to intimidate Taiwan, a self-governed democracy that Beijing is seeking to bring under Chinese sovereignty by force if necessary.
Taiwan’s defense ministry said it was monitoring the movements of Chinese military aircraft and naval vessels near the island. However, it said there was no evidence that anyone had crossed the centerline in the Taiwan Strait or entered Taiwan’s air defense identification zone, as often happens.