HONG KONG — A powerful typhoon pummeled Taiwan on Saturday, dumping rain, toppling trees and leaving millions without electricity as strong winds ripped across the island.
At least six people were killed, Taiwan’s Interior Ministry said, including in its count people who had died Thursday and Friday as the storm approached. Five people were reported missing, and more than 60 were injured, many by blowing debris, the ministry said.
The storm, called Soudelor, had registered as the strongest of 2015 as it blew across the western Pacific days earlier. But it had weakened by the time it made landfall in eastern Taiwan early Saturday, and it continued to do so as it crossed the island and headed toward China.
Soudelor arrived with wind speeds of more than 100 miles per hour near its center, with gusts approaching 130 m.p.h., Taiwan’s Central Weather Bureau said. The storm’s collision with the steep slopes of eastern Taiwan set off heavy rainfall, with 30 inches falling on Taiping mountain in the northeast over the first 12 hours of Saturday.
Strong winds brought down electrical lines, leaving more than two million households without power Saturday morning, said Taiwan Power Company, the state-owned utility. Gusts also flipped several freight cars at a train station in Yilan County in the northeast, the Taiwan-based news outlet Apple Daily reported.
A woman and her daughter were killed and another daughter was reported missing after they were caught in heavy ocean swells along Taiwan’s northeastern coast on Thursday afternoon, Taiwan’s National Fire Agency said. Early Saturday morning, a drunk driver hit two firefighters who were removing a fallen tree from a road, killing one and injuring another, the agency said.
Another man was killed in Yilan County late Friday when he was hit by an object believed to be a sign, according to the fire agency. On Saturday, an 80-year-old man drowned when floodwaters entered his home in New Taipei City, and another man was killed by a falling tree in the southern city of Kaohsiung.
The center of the typhoon left Taiwan’s western shore by 11 a.m. Saturday, as the storm headed west toward the Chinese province of Fujian, weakening as it went. Tropical Storm Risk, a British weather company, said Soudelor was a Category Three typhoon when it made landfall in Taiwan, dropped to Category Two by midday and would be Category One by the time it reached Fujian late Saturday, with maximum sustained winds under 95 m.p.h.
About 158,000 people were evacuated in Fujian prior to the storm’s arrival, according to Xinhua, China’s state-run news agency.
While winds and rain eased in eastern Taiwan, the storm was still battering its western side on Saturday evening, and concerns remained about flooding and the potential for catastrophic mudslides set off by heavy rainfall.