TAIPEI: Typhoon Sepat pounded Taiwan on Saturday, bringing powerful winds and torrential rains that disrupted electricity, air and rail traffic and forced many buildings to shut.
The Central Weather Bureau said the typhoon made landfall on the east coast, packing winds of 155 kilometres (96 miles) per hour.
With a radius of 250 kilometres, the typhoon was centred some 70 kilometres southwest of Hualien at 8:30 am (0030 GMT), the bureau said.
It disrupted electricity supplies to more than 70,000 households and forced the evacuation of around 1,600 people in mountain villages, according to the National Fire Agency which coordinates rescue efforts.
All domestic flights are suspended while China Airlines and the carrier EVA Airways cancelled seven and 11 international flights, respectively.
Rail services were also affected, with all trains called off in the morning and the high-speed bullet train not due to re-open until the evening.
Ferries between Taiwan's Kinmen island and the Chinese cities of Xiamen and Chuanzhou are suspended.
The weather bureau warned residents across Taiwan to remain on their guard and to avoid coastal activities, and there have also been mudslide alerts.
Some 4,300 Chinese fishermen were seeking shelter in Taiwanese harbours, according to the National Fire Agency.
Typhoon Sepat is evoking painful memories of Typhoon Bilis which hit the island in 2000, killing 11 people and causing huge damage to agriculture.