Typhoon Soudelor pounded Taiwan with fierce winds and torrential rain Saturday, leaving four dead and dozens injured, state media reported.
Fatalities included a girl, 8, and her mother, who were swept out to sea, Taiwan’s Central News Agency reported.
The girl’s twin sister is unaccounted for, it said.
After Taiwan, Soudelor will churn across the sea to mainland China. It is forecast to weaken by then, but is still predicted to pack hurricane-strength winds when it makes landfall late Saturday.
Soudelor made landfall north of the Taiwanese city of Hualien. Forecasters had predicted the storm would have maximum sustained winds at landfall of about 125 mph (200 kph), the equivalent of a Category 3 hurricane.
Authorities deployed more than 35,000 military personnel to relocate residents in vulnerable areas as the typhoon made its way across the Pacific Ocean.
Parts of northern Taiwan have picked up more than 12 inches (300 millimeters) of rain in 24 hours, according to Taiwan’s Central Weather Bureau.
Taiwanese airlines have announced flight adjustments, canceling a number of domestic and international flights for Saturday, according to Taiwan’s Central News Agency. Railways have likewise suspended high speed and regular train services, said the Agency.
The Central Weather Bureau has warned 16 cities and counties they’re likely to experience intense rain and powerful winds from Soudelor.
Soudelor became the strongest storm on the planet so far this year, with peak winds at 180 mph (290 kph), according to the Joint Typhoon Warning Center.
CNN Meteorologist Tom Sater warned that communities in low-lying areas of Taiwan’s eastern coast are at risk of a storm surge, flooding and landslides. The risks from flooding and landslides are potentially greater than the risks from storm surge or wind, CNN meteorologist Brandon Miller said.
Storm headed to China
In China, nearly 5,000 people have been moved to safer areas in Fujian province, which is expected to take a direct hit from the typhoon, state-run news agency Xinhua reported.
Soudelor has already wreaked havoc in Saipan, Northern Mariana Islands, passing through earlier this week and disrupting water and electricity services.
The West Pacific Basin has seen 10 typhoons so far in 2015.
Of those, five have reached super-typhoon strength, meaning sustained winds of at least 150 mph (240 kph). That total is higher than the average of four for an entire year.