Taiwan sounds Typhoon Lekima warning for ships

Port of Keelung Taiwan. Credit: SKRYPNYK, OLEG

Ships off the northern, north-eastern, and south-eastern coasts of Taiwan have been advised to take extra care ahead of Typhoon Lekima making landfall on 8 August 2019.

The island is bracing for another natural disaster after a 5.9 magnitude earthquake hit Yilan County in the north-east the same day, killing one woman and causing a power outage.

With maximum winds of 227 km per hour, Lekima has been categorised as the strongest typhoon level by Taiwan’s weather bureau.

The typhoon was expected to approach off the island’s northeastern coast at night, bringing the risk of higher tides.

The alert to ships came just as a Taiwanese fishing vessel, Chuan Yi Tsai No. 1, was found capsized on 7 August near the disputed Diaoyu Islands (Senkaku), which are claimed by China, Japan, and Taiwan.

Chuan Yi Tsai No. 1 had left Wushi Harbor in Yilan on 2 August, heading for waters off the east coast of Taiwan. However, the vessel crew contact with its owner at 13:00 local time on 6 August 2019.

The vessel owner contacted the Taiwan Coast Guard, which, with its Japanese counterparts, sent patrol vessels and helicopters to search for the trawler.

The Japanese coastguard spotted the vessel about 07:00 local time on 7 August. It had broken in two and was floating near the Diaoyu Islands.

The vessel’s Taiwanese captain and crew of five Indonesians are still unaccounted for and are believed to have died in the incident.

The arrival of Lekima has hindered recovery operations and the Taiwan Coast Guard will resume operations when the weather improves.