At least seven people are confirmed dead as Typhoon Aere pounded northern Taiwan with high winds and heavy rain.
The storm hit the area with maximum sustained winds of 130 kilometers-an-hour. Its center was just north of Taiwan Tuesday, headed for the coast of eastern China, says voice of America.
Across the Taiwan Strait, China prepared for the worst as Aere was forecast to make landfall in the eastern province of Zhejiang later Wednesday.
Zhejiang evacuated some 249,000 people and nearly 31,500 fishing boats were also called back to port, China's Xinhua news agency said. A Hong Kong fisherman died and four others were reported missing late Monday after two boats capsized off the north and east of Taiwan.
Taiwan's National Rescue Command Center said the fishermen were presumed dead. "Given the strong winds and rough seas, all search and search missions have been suspended," an official told AFP.
Typhoon Aere -- which means 'storm' in the Marshall Islands where it began -- was packing winds of 130 kilometres (80 miles) per hour as it bore down on the capital Taipei, which shut down financial markets, schools and offices, reports Channel News Asia.
Japanese coast guard officials said Tuesday that two sisters, ages 12 and 7, were swept away while swimming near Japan's southern Amami-Oshima islands, east of Taiwan. Their bodies were recovered late Monday, the coast guard said.
Aere knocked over store signs in Taipei, where most of the shops were closed with tape crisscrossing their windows for reinforcement.
People parked their cars on highway overpasses and bridges, protecting them from flash flooding that has submerged vehicles in the past.
Some parts of Taiwan recorded 27 inches of rain in the past 36 hours, the weather bureau said.
Although Taiwan has been feuding with China for the past 55 years, the island allows Chinese fishermen to seek refuge on the island during storms. About 200 fishermen from China waited out the storm at one shelter near Keelung's port. Some watched television as others played mahjong or got their hair cut, informs Guardian.
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