Taiwan to restore power after Typhoon Haikui batters island

TAIPEI (Reuters) -Taiwan expects to restore power supply by late on Monday to thousands of homes cut off by Typhoon Haikui in the island’s south and east, where schools and businesses were shut, while domestic airlines cancelled all but a handful of flights.

The first typhoon to directly hit Taiwan in four years, Haikui made landfall on Sunday in the island’s mountainous and sparsely populated far southeast, before moving across the south.

It knocked out power to almost 260,000 households, the economy ministry said, adding that it aimed to restore electricity to the last 26,000 homes by 11 p.m. (1500 GMT) on Monday.

Classes were cancelled and workers given the day off for a second day across southern, eastern and central regions, while Taipei, the capital, received sporadic gusty rain showers.

The world’s largest contract chipmaker, Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing (TSMC), said its plants in Taiwan were operating normally and had not been affected by the storm.

Fire officials reported 116 injuries from the typhoon but were still trying to ascertain if the death of a man found by a roadside in Taitung was linked to it.

Taiwan airlines cancelled 208 domestic flights, leaving just a handful scheduled, while ferry services to surrounding islands were suspended.

International flights, with just 23 cancelled, suffered less disruption, the Civil Aeronautics Administration said.

Haikui is much weaker than Typhoon Saola, which hit Hong Kong and the southern Chinese province of Guangdong on Saturday.

By Monday, Haikui had entered the Taiwan Strait, heading for China, Taiwan’s weather authorities said, though it will continue to bring heavy rain across the island into the middle of the week.

The typhoon is expected to make landfall on the border between the Chinese provinces of Guangdong and Fujian, near the city of Shantou, on Tuesday morning and weaken further, China’s weather forecast centre said.

(Reporting by Ben Blanchard and Yimou Lee; Additional reporting by Beijing newsroom; Editing by Tom Hogue and Clarence Fernandez)