TAIPEI - Typhoon Chanthu (Typhoon Kiko in the Philippines) weakened on Saturday as it approached Taiwan's eastern coast and was unlikely to make landfall, meteorologists said, but strong winds left more than 100 flights and ferries cancelled.
Chanthu rapidly formed into a super typhoon in just 48 hours earlier this week threatening both the Philippines and Taiwan.
But it was since downgraded to a medium storm and will likely avoid hitting Taiwan directly, according to the island's central weather bureau.
The outer edge of the storm was lashing eastern and southern Taiwan with strong winds and rains on Saturday night after it grazed the northeastern tip of the Philippines.
"Taiwan will be under the influence of the typhoon from tonight to whole day tomorrow as winds and rains are expected to increase all over (the island)," forecaster Wu Wan-hua said.
The center of the storm is expected to travel up Taiwan's eastern seaboard overnight but remain out to sea.
At 1200 GMT (8 a.m. Sunday in Manila), Chanthu was 100 kilometers (62 miles) east of Taiwan's southernmost tip, packing gusts of up to 198 kilometers an hour, the bureau said.
Around 2,000 people in landslide-prone areas in eastern Hualien county have been evacuated and authorities also closed some sections of highways in the area.
Around 100 local and international flights, as well as ferry services to several offshore islets, were suspended on Saturday, according to the central emergency operation center.
The defense ministry said it has 31,000 troops on standby for typhoon relief work if needed.
Taiwan is regularly hit by tropical storms in the summer months.
In a rare exception to the rule, not a single typhoon made landfall last year, the first time in 56 years. The last typhoon to make landfall on the island was in August 2019.
That helped fuel the worst drought in decades until heavy rains set in a few months ago and brought needed relief.
© Agence France-Presse