Thousands of people across Taiwan lost power as Super Typhoon Meranti ravaged the country Wednesday, with this year’s strongest storm yet moving toward mainland China, possibly causing much more destruction.
The Category 5 storm, marked by wind speeds of up to 230 mph and torrential rains, has caused schools and offices to shut down across the southern parts of the island. More than 370 domestic and international flights have been canceled, while train services have also taken a serious hit, CNN reported.
The country’s Central Weather Bureau has said that Meranti could threaten a number of cities in the south and east of Taiwan — including Kaohsiung and Hualien. “This typhoon is the world’s strongest so far this year,” weather bureau spokeswoman Hsieh Pei-yun said, according to Reuters. “Its impact on Taiwan will peak all day today.”
The country will face the brunt of the storm all through Wednesday and Thursday, following which Meranti will move into China, making landfall in the southern provinces of Guangdong and Fujian.
Li Wei-sen of the Taiwan Central Emergency Operation Center told CNN that almost 4,000 military and police personnel have been deployed to facilitate evacuations but no major damage or destruction is expected by the Taiwanese authorities.
Over Monday and Tuesday, Meranti grew from a Category 1 storm to a top-scale Category 5, in under 24 hours, causing more than 260,000 households across southern Taiwan to lose power.
Taiwan has a history of being hit by powerful Pacific typhoons. On July 8, Super Typhoon Nepartak hit the island in a similar way, causing three deaths and cutting power to over half a million people. Meranti is expected to be even stronger than Nepartak as it hits mainland China — which is expected to bear the full force of the typhoon — with winds recording a speed of around 130 mph.