Taiwan evacuates tourists ahead of third storm in 2 weeks

Taiwan evacuated thousands of tourists from outlying islands Monday and set up nearly 100 shelters across the island as it braced for its third typhoon in two weeks. 

The east coast is still reeling from damage caused by Super Typhoon Meranti earlier this month -- the strongest storm for 21 years to hit Taiwan -- followed by Typhoon Malakas. 

The same part of the island is in the firing line again from approaching Typhoon Megi, which is already bringing strong winds and waves.

It is due to make landfall on the east coast on Tuesday and forecast to bring almost a metre of rain to some areas over three days. 

Ferries to Taiwan's Green Island and Orchid Island were halted Monday after more than 3,700 visitors were evacuated over the weekend. 

A 700-ton crane was blown over Monday at a harbour in the eastern area of Hualien. It crushed a nearby building but no one was injured. 

More than 35,000 soldiers are on standby to help with disaster relief and 92 shelters are open for residents.

At 0715 GMT, Megi was 530 kilometres (329 miles) east-southeast of Hualien, packing gusts of up to 191 kilometres (119 miles) per hour. 

"The storm eye will be closest around noon tomorrow, affecting Taiwan the whole day," Lin Chih-hui, a forecaster at Taiwan's Central Weather Bureau, told AFP. 

"There is still a chance it might strengthen," she said. 

Mountainous regions in the northeastern county of Yilan and Hualien -- already hit by the previous storms -- could be lashed by up to 900 millimetres (35 inches) of rain through Wednesday, increasing the risk of landslides, the bureau said. 

Topics: Taiwan , weather , typhoon
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