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Typhoon Dujuan Sweeps over Taiwan, Heads for HK, Mainland

Typhoon Dujuan blacked out thousands of homes, uprooted trees and drenched Taiwan with rain early Tuesday before churning toward Hong Kong and the mainland. A college student was missing after a river swept her away, officials said.

Packing winds of 155 kph (96 mph), the storm lashed southern Taiwan during the night, leaving a trail of debris. In the beach resort town of Kenting, TVBS cable news showed streets covered with fallen trees, broken glass, twisted store signs and motor scooters knocked over by the powerful gusts.


TVBS also showed a helicopter rescuing a watermelon farmer from a raging river created by flash floods in mountainous Hualien County on the east coast.


A swollen river carried away a 23-year-old college student in the east coast county of Taitung, disaster officials said. The woman, Yen Min-ju, was working on a wildlife research project, the officials said.


The storm's eye passed just south of Taiwan's southern tip, and at 0300 GMT Dujuan's center was about 360 km (225 miles) west of Taiwan. By late morning, weather officials lifted land warnings for Taiwan's main island and said that sea warnings might be dropped by the end of Tuesday.


The typhoon's speed decreased slightly, and it was moving at 26 kph (16.25 mph) toward Hong Kong and the mainland's southern province of Guangdong.


Although there was little wind and no rain in Hong Kong during the morning, the territory's flagship carrier, Cathay Pacific Airways, said it suspended all inbound and outbound flights from 0900 GMT Tuesday because of the storm. The flights may remain suspended until late Wednesday morning, the airline said.


Hong Kong's Education Bureau said it suspended classes at all schools on Tuesday.


Taiwan officials spent most of the morning assessing the damage from Dujuan, the Mandarin word for azalea.


On Taiwan's southeastern coast, two unmanned ships were ripped loose from their moorings in Fukang harbor. Fallen billboards, scaffolding and trees hindered traffic on several roads in southern Taiwan.


About 146,000 homes were still without power. However, the figure was significantly lower than the 580,000 homes blacked out earlier in the morning. The utility said 17,000 of the homes were in Taitung, and 114,000 were in the Pingtung area.


Dujuan dumped the most rain in the town of Maopitou on Taiwan's southern tip, where 511 millimeters (20 inches) were recorded. In some areas of Hualien County, 245 millimeters (10 inches) of rain fell.


Much of the damage from typhoons often happens after the storm passes. That's when soggy ground gives way, causing fatal mudslides on this densely populated island. Two years ago, Typhoon Toraji triggered mudslides and flooding that killed more than 200 people.


Taipei missed the worst of the storm, but showers soaked the northern city throughout the night.


Taiwan frequently finds itself in the path of typhoons between June and September, but a major storm has yet to hit the island during this storm season. Most of the storms have veered away from the island or lost their strength as they drew near.


(China Daily September 2, 2003)

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