Four dead as Typhoon Soudelor batters Taiwan

Four dead as Typhoon Soudelor batters Taiwan

Typhoon Soudelor battered Taiwan with fierce winds and rain today leaving four people dead and a trail of devastation before heading for mainland China.

After making landfall on the east coast in the early hours of the morning it swept across central Taiwan ripping up trees, snapping wind turbines and triggering a landslide in one remote village in the northern region of Taoyuan.

All of the villagers had been evacuated in advance.

"Flash mudslides surged into the village. About 10 of the homes were half buried but people were evacuated last night and are in safe shelters," a spokesman for Taoyuan fire agency told AFP.

Almost 700,000 homes remained without power across Taiwan with torrential rains leaving some areas waist-deep in water.

The typhoon was pushing through central Taiwan towards the mainland Chinese province of Fujian, where 158,000 people have already been evacuated.

Authorities said four people had died in the storm including a firefighter in southern Pintung county and a man in the coastal town of Suao who was hit by a falling billboard.

An eight-year-old girl and her mother had become the first casualties when they were swept out to sea and died as the storm approached.

Thousands have been evacuated, with 1,300 people in temporary shelters across the island. All schools and workplaces were shut today.

The typhoon made landfall in the town of Hsiulin in eastern Hualien county at 4:40 am today (2040 GMT Friday) before zigzagging across the centre of the island.

Tatung township in eastern Yilan saw the most rain, with more than a metre falling since Thursday.

There was widespread flooding across the county after coastal homes were hit by towering waves.

"I've never seen such a powerful typhoon in my 60 years of life," one elderly woman in eastern Taitung told Formosa TV.

The strongest winds were in Suao, where gusts reached 237 kilometres per hour, the weather bureau said.

At least 80 international flights have been cancelled and high-speed rail services were halted.

As the storm moved west it snapped turbines and brought down 65-metre-high towers at a wind farm in Taichung, images on the Apple Daily website showed.

More than 4,000 people were evacuated as the storm approached, including 2,000 tourists who were pulled out of the popular outlying Green Island and Orchid Island.

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