A powerful typhoon lashed Taiwan with strong winds and heavy rains Monday, triggering landslides and floods that severely disrupted air traffic and closed schools and businesses.
Typhoon Fung Wong hit the island just before dawn, packing winds of 105 miles (167 kilometers) per hour. Four hours after the storm made landfall, no casualties had yet been reported.
Television images showed rescue personnel wading through waist-deep waters to extricate people from their homes in Hualien in eastern Taiwan, where the typhoon made landfall.
Officials evacuated more than 500 isolated villagers and barred traffic at low lying, vulnerable bridges, Taiwan's disaster relief center said. An unidentified village chief in Nantou County in central Taiwan told Sanlih Television that rampaging flood waters had reached a mountain village, prompting some 1,000 people to prepare to evacuate.
In normally bustling Taipei, streets were deserted after authorities ordered businesses, banks and the local stock exchange to close.
The city's domestic airport was shut down, but at the international airport in suburban Taoyuan county some long-haul and regional flights using larger aircraft were still taking off and landing normally, according to the Taoyuan airport's Web site.
The state-run Taiwan Power company said more than 43,000 homes had lost power and several roads were blocked by landslides.
The storm is expected to drop up to 36 inches (91 centimeters) of rain on the central portion of Taiwan and perhaps half of that much on its southern and northern extremities, including Taipei. It is expected to make landfall on the southeastern Chinese coast some time early Tuesday, the Central Weather Bureau said.
Fung Wong hit Taiwan just a week after tropical storm Kalmaegi killed 19 people and left six others missing on the island.
Typhoons frequently hit Taiwan between July and September, often causing casualties in mountainous regions prone to landslides and flash floods.