Typhoon Meranti passed over Taiwan Wednesday September 14, bringing intense rain over most of the island, and hammering the southern counties with intense wind-gusts that brought down power-lines, flipped cars and trucks over, and damaged buildings.
Strongest Typhoon to Hit Taiwan in 21 years
The typhoon is the strongest to hit the island in 21 years. The eye passed about 90km south of Hengchun Peninsular in Pingtung County. The weather station on Hengchun Peninsular recorded sustained winds of 191 kilometers per hour, with wind gusts up to 234 kph, the highest recorded since the weather station was established in 1896.
Orchid Island was the first to feel the typhoon’s effects late Tuesday, when the island’s 3000 residents were left without power. The island experienced gusts up to 60.9 meters per second. At noon, Wednesday, a high tide and big waves generated by the typhoon saw sections of road inundated. Large rocks and debris covered the road after the water receded. [See Pictures Below]
Nuclear Reactors Shut Down
Two nuclear reactors at Maanshan Nuclear Power Plant were shutdown Wednesday morning as a safety precaution. The reactors are located in Pingtung County, one of the areas hardest hit by the typhoon.
More than 500 000 residents are without power at the time of writing Wednesday afternoon due to fallen power lines and other damage to infrastructure.
Harbor Infrastructure Damaged
As the day progressed, the typhoon moved north-northwest, hugging the coast and exposing Kaohsiung and Tainan Counties to the eye-wall, where the most intense winds are felt. In Kaohsiung City, home of Taiwan’s largest port, it was reported that 16 vessels had gone adrift after their cables snapped. Empty containers stacked near the harbor toppled like toy blocks, and gantries used to load shipping containers collapsed.
One of the ships set adrift in Kaohsiung Harbor was the giant container ship YM Wellhead, 368 meters long and 51 meters wide, with a gross tonnage of 144 651 tons. Tugs were sent to attempt to stabilize the vessel and prevent it smashing into other vessels or port infrastructure.
During the afternoon, Pingtung County continued to experience torrential rain causing flooding. In Fangliao township, 65 residents were evacuated from flooded homes. Television reports showed army amphibious vehicles being used to ferry the residents through flooded streets.