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Thousands flee typhoon in Taiwan

Thousands of residents were evacuated as a powerful typhoon struck Taiwan, flooding the southern part of the island, crippling transport and shutting off power.

Typhoon Fanapi was the first major storm to strike the island this year.

It later reached Fujian province in mainland China after crossing Taiwan with peak winds of 102mph.

Taiwan’s Central Weather Bureau said as much as 44 inches of rain had been dumped in southern Taiwan by early today – with more to come.

TV images showed water submerging streets and first floors of buildings.

Military vehicles entered inundated areas to help trapped residents in the southern part of the island, including Taiwan’s second largest city Kaohsiung

Schools and offices were closed.

Officials evacuated 10,000 residents from remote areas vulnerable to landslides, half of them in the southern part of the island.

They said 107 people were injured. Some were cut by broken glass and others hurt when they fell off motorcycles in strong winds.

Taiwan’s China Airlines suspended all international departures from Kaohsiung. All of Taiwan’s domestic air and rail service was halted.

Taiwan’s government has deployed thousands of emergency workers and military personnel throughout the island to try to mitigate damage, mindful of the estimated 700 deaths caused by Typhoon Morakot last year.

In eastern China, officials said 186,000 people had been evacuated.

“Fanapi is the strongest typhoon to hit Fujian in 2010 and we should prepare for the worst,” said Sun Chunlan, Communist Party chief of Fujian, according to the official Xinhua News Agency.

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