Taiwan braces for Typhoon Soulik

A satellite image of Typhoon Soulik released on 10 July 2013
Image caption Typhoon Soulik has wind speeds of around 173km/hour (100 mph)

Taiwan is braced for the arrival of Typhoon Soulik, a tropical hurricane expected to bring strong winds and torrential rain to the island.

Schools and offices in northern cities are expected to close on Friday afternoon as the storm nears.

The typhoon was 450 km (280 miles) southeast of Yilan county on Friday morning, Taiwan's weather bureau said.

In 2009, Taiwan was hit by Typhoon Morakot, which left hundreds dead in floods and mudslides.

Typhoon Soulik, which was earlier classed as a "super typhoon", weakened overnight and has been downgraded to a medium-force typhoon.

However, it still had wind speeds of around 173 km/hour (100 mph) on Friday morning.

It is expected to hit north and northeast Taiwan on Friday, before moving onto mainland China's eastern provinces on Saturday.

Landslide warning

Hundreds of soldiers are on stand-by for emergency response operations and 102 military camps have been prepared as emergency shelters, the Central Emergency Operations Center said.

In a statement, the centre also warned that some areas of Taiwan were prone to landslides.

"The central region of Taiwan has experienced two earthquakes with magnitude six or above on 27 March and 2 June, [and] loose soil after seismic activities are potential disaster areas under heavy rainfall," it said.

Image caption Fishing boats have taken shelter in the harbour

It advised that fishing boats return to the shore before the typhoon hit, and asked members of the public to avoid mountain and coastal areas.

More than 2,000 tourists were evacuated from Taiwan's Green Island, near the city of Taitung, on Thursday as a precaution.

Some flights to Taiwan have been disrupted, with both Cathay Pacific and China Airlines announcing cancellations or planned cancellations.

Typhoon Soulik is expected to arrive in mainland China's eastern provinces of Fujian and Zhejiang on Saturday.

Local authorities have been asked to implement emergency response plans, China's state-run news agency Xinhua reported.

Typhoons are common during the summer in parts of East Asia, where the warm moist air and low pressure conditions enable tropical cyclones to form.

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