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The BBC's Jessica Williams
"It's the tenth typhoon to hit the region this year"
 real 56k

The BBC's Damian Grammaticas
"It's the most powerful storm recorded in East Asia this year"
 real 28k

Andrea Chen, ICRT radio, Taipei
"A woman was hit by a falling billboard"
 real 28k

Wednesday, 23 August, 2000, 07:26 GMT 08:26 UK
Three dead in Taiwan typhoon
Damaged apartment
The very frameworks of buildings were mangled
Typhoon Bilis tore through Taiwan on Wednesday, killing at least three people and leaving others buried alive.

The ferocious winds and torrential rain ripped up power lines and trees, leaving 60,000 people without power, and forced thousands from their homes.

A 27-year-old worker, Lin Mao-tsai, died when a wall collapsed at a landfill outside the capital, Taipei, the government's typhoon relief centre said.

It seems as if Nantou has a share in every natural disaster

Annette Lu
Two others were hit by flying debris, including one man hit by a door knocked down by winds.

Nine villagers in the central county of Nantou - devastated by an earthquake last year - were buried under a landslide.

Winds also lifted roofs of 23 prefabricated houses for earthquake victims.

"It seems as if Nantou has a share in every natural disaster," Vice President Annette Lu said.

The US National Hurricane Centre said it had recorded winds as high as 320km/h (200mph), making Bilis a "super-typhoon".

Thousands evacuated

Man lifting an uprooted tree
The typhoon uprooted trees and triggered landslides
Tens of thousands had to be moved from their homes into government shelters.

In eastern Hualien county, about 250 houses collapsed in the strong winds, officials said.

The Central Weather Bureau warned of landslides and floods in low-lying areas.

The typhoon stretching 32 km (20 miles) - the strongest in Asia this year - struck the island on Tuesday at around 2230 (1430GMT).

A few found opportunity in the chaos - four prisoners who were serving sentences ranging from 13 years to life for robbery escaped from their cells.

Banks and schools shut

Banks, financial markets, offices and schools were closed and flights suspended.

Children were sent home from school on Tuesday, and many people left work early to buy food, batteries and other supplies, and to cover their windows.

Typhoon Bilis seen by satellite before it hit Taiwan
Typhoon Bilis seen by satellite before it hit Taiwan
Taiwan's cabinet has set up an emergency centre in the capital Taipei, manned by the police, fire services and military.

Bilis is now heading for south-east China, and is expected to reach land late on Wednesday or early Thursday.

Vietnam hit

In Vietnam, another typhoon has killed at least six people.

Several others were reported missing when Tropical Storm Kaemi hit the coast late Tuesday.

Among the dead were two Indian tourists, drowned after a whirlwind capsized their boats in Halong Bay, north-east of Hanoi.

One child was killed by lightning and a man electrocuted in Danang city.

Several fishing boats were reported to have sunk in rough seas off the central coast - which is hit annually by storms - and another 80 failed to return to shore, state media reported.

A potential hazard arose when an offshore drilling rig broke away in the storm.

It was brought to a halt by two tankers and is being towed back to the shore.

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See also:

08 Jul 00 | Asia-Pacific
Killer storms in Philippines and Japan
11 Feb 00 | Asia-Pacific
Chinese Dragon replaces Typhoon Ted
23 Aug 00 | Asia-Pacific
In pictures: Taiwan's typhoon
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