Taiwan spared major damage as Typhoon Maria heads to China

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Sand bags to prevent flooding are placed at the entrance of a building in Taipei as Taiwan braced for super typhoon Maria, July 10, 2018. Source: Reuters/Eason Lam

TYPHOON Maria approached Taiwan Tuesday evening with heavy rain and winds into early Wednesday.

Schools and businesses were ordered to close early on Tuesday and some parts of Taiwan remained closed on Wednesday. The capital Taipei has returned to normal operations.

The eye of the typhoon remained offshore as the storm passed Taiwan, but tropical force winds extending more than 150km from the centre of the storm still put Taipei and surrounding municipalities within reach of heavy winds and rainfall.

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According to the weather bureau, some parts of Taiwan were hit with downpours of up to 10cm last night. Two people were injured by falling tree limbs in Taipei on Tuesday, according to the government’s disaster response center.

Local media reported that around 16,000 homes across Taiwan have been left without power. Officials took high precautions on Tuesday for the first typhoon of the season, warning about floods and landslides, and evacuating thousands of people in the mountainous areas.

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A worker takes a photo of a fallen tree on a street in Taipei after Taiwan braced for super typhoon Maria, July 11, 2018. Source: Reuters/Eason Lam

Airlines have cancelled more than 250 flights out of Taoyuan International Airport and more than 30,000 troops were placed on standby.

Fishermen rushed to bring in their catch and secure their boats and farmers scrambled to harvest produce before bearing the brunt of the storm. Ferries services to outlying islands were suspended.

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Taiwan is often hit by typhoons from June through November each year. Last year, more than 130 people were injured when Typhoon Nesat slammed into Taiwan. In 2009, landslides from Typhoon Morakot killed around 700 people on the island.

After weakening as it neared Taiwan, Typhoon Maria continued northwest toward the eastern coast of China, making landfall around 500km south of Shanghai Wednesday morning. The Chinese provinces of Fujian and Zhejiang made preparations in advance of the storm.

The typhoon could cause billions of dollars of damage on one of the most densely populated coastlines in the world.