TAIPEI - Taiwan issued a maritime warning and airlines cancelled some flights on Wednesday as the island braced for Typhoon Talim, which was expected to hit northern cities, including Taipei, and had the potential to become a super typhoon.
Talim was expected to gain in strength as it swept towards the capital and other cities, including New Taipei and Yilan, lashing them with strong wind and heavy rain, the Central Weather Bureau said.
Its greatest impact would be felt later on Wednesday and on Thursday, the bureau said on its website, when it was expected to slam into the north and northeast with maximum sustained wind speeds of 137 km per hour (85 mph) and gusts of up to 173 km/h (107 mph).
It had not yet been determined whether the Taiwan government would close financial markets, companies or schools on Thursday. An announcement would be made later on Wednesday if closures were considered necessary.
China Airlines and EVA Airways, Taiwan's two largest carriers, said they would cancel some inbound and outbound international flights scheduled for later on Wednesday. A warning for sea traffic was also issued by the Central Weather Bureau.
Formosa Petrochemical Corp, Taiwan's second-biggest oil supplier, said it had prepared to close its supply port if necessary as Talim approached, although it was waiting for a government directive.
China's National Meteorological Center warned on Tuesday that Talim could intensify and turn into a super typhoon as it churned towards Taiwan and Zhejiang and Fujian provinces on the Chinese mainland.
As many as half a million people may need to be evacuated if the storm intensifies, according to Chinese media reports.
Typhoons are a seasonal routine for Taiwan, but the island has enhanced its preparations and been on guard against the potential for severe and deadly typhoons since Typhoon Morakat devastated the island in 2009.
Morakat was the deadliest typhoon to hit the island in recorded history, killing close to 700 people, most of them in landslides.