Typhoon hits Taiwan, nears China

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TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Super Typhoon Usagi, the world's strongest storm this year, lashed Taiwan with rain and wind as it swept past the southern part of the island, cutting electricity and forcing evacuations while disrupting shipping with China.

Taiwan's Central Weather Bureau issued land and sea warnings Saturday, advising people to stay indoors as the storm approached the island's southeast.

As of Saturday afternoon in Taipei, 3,000 people had been evacuated, the Central Emergency Operation Center said on its website. More than 88,000 households were without electricity as of early evening, state-run Taiwan Power said.

Usagi will probably make landfall on the central-eastern coast of China's Guangdong province sometime from this afternoon to Monday morning, China's Meteorological Administration said in a statement posted on its website.

Shipping transportation between China and Taiwan was partially suspended as Usagi heads toward China's coast, the official Xinhua news wire reported.

Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd., Hong Kong's largest airline, and its unit Hong Kong Dragon Airlines Ltd. will stop Hong Kong operations from 6 p.m. today through Sept. 23, as the storm affects the city, the companies said in separate statements Saturday. The carriers advised passengers to defer non-essential travel on those days and will waive rebooking fees for all tickets issued on or before Sept. 20 for travel between today and Sept. 24, according to the statements.

At its current maximum sustained wind speed, Usagi is equivalent to a Category 2 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson scale, meaning "extremely dangerous winds will cause extensive damage," according to the U.S. National Hurricane Center website. Winds from Category 2 hurricanes range from 96 mph to 110 mph.

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