Thousands evacuated, flights canceled as Taiwan girds for typhoon Haikui

People walk and drive under heavy rain as the Typhoon Haikui approaches the country, in Taipei, Sept 2, 2023. [AP Photo]

Domestic flights were canceled and almost 3,000 people were evacuated as Taiwan prepared for the arrival of Typhoon Haikui on Sunday. The storm is expected to bring torrential rain and strong winds to the island's south and east.

Haikui is forecast to make landfall in the mountainous and sparsely populated far southeast of Taiwan late Sunday afternoon, with counties and cities in the east and south canceling classes and declaring a day off for workers.

Haikui is a much weaker storm than Typhoon Saola, which hit Hong Kong and the southern Chinese province of Guangdong on Saturday. Haikui is expected to be a Category 1 or 2 typhoon when it hits Taiwan, according to Tropical Storm Risk.

Taiwan's government said that 2,868 people had been evacuated from settlements mainly in the south and east.

Taiwan's two main domestic airlines, UNI Air and Mandarin Airlines, canceled all flights on Sunday, while ferry services to offshore islands were canceled as well.

There was less disruption to international flights, with 25 canceled for Sunday.

The military has mobilized soldiers and equipment to help with flood relief and evacuation efforts.

After passing across southern Taiwan, Haikui is forecast to cross the Taiwan Strait into China.