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Page last updated at 10:52 GMT, Friday, 7 August 2009 11:52 UK

Taiwan braces for Typhoon Morakot

Man battles high winds and umbrella in Hsintien, Taipei county, Taiwan - 7 August 2009
Typhoon Morakot is due to pass over Taiwan's heavily populated north

Taiwan has closed schools and offices and cancelled flights as the strongest typhoon of the year nears the island.

Typhoon Morakot is expected to pass directly over the capital, Taipei, with winds of about 145km/h (90mph) and heavy rainfall, meteorologists said.

Landslides and power outages have been reported in the north of the island.

Thousands of people have already been evacuated from their homes in China, where Morakot is expected to make landfall on Saturday.

Text message warning

Millions of people living in the north of Taiwan are sheltering in their homes, awaiting the arrival of Morakot.

All domestic flights and many international flights have been cancelled, service on the island's high-speed railroad has been suspended and seaports have been closed due to the high winds. Gusts have reached up to 180km/h (112mph).

Nearly 50cm (20 inches) of rain has already fallen in some mountainous areas. Some minor landslides have been reported in the north of the island and power has been cut to about 25,000 households.

Waves break off north-east coast of Taiwan - 7 August 2009
High waves have been lashing Taiwan

Taiwan's weather bureau has said the impact of the typhoon could be prolonged as it is moving slowly.

On the mainland of China, state media said that more than 20,000 people had been evacuated from their homes in Fujian province.

The provincial government has sent more than 8m mobile phone text messages to residents warning them of the typhoon's approach, the Chinese state news agency reports.

Fishing vessels and other boats have been ordered to take shelter in ports.

The storm's impact has been felt far to the north and south of its track.

Japan's weather bureau reported heavy rain and strong winds on the country's southern islands, forcing the cancellation of more than 200 flights in Okinawa and Kagoshima prefectures, Kyodo news agency says.

Morakot has also contributed to heavy rains in the Philippines, where at least 10 people were killed in flooding and landslides in the north.

Typhoons are frequent in the region between July and September.

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