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Typhoon lashes Japan islands and Taiwan, heading to China

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Typhoon Chan-hom lashed Japan's Okinawa island chain on Friday as it pushed towards Taiwan and onto China, leaving at least 23 people injured.

[TOKYO] Typhoon Chan-hom lashed Japan's Okinawa island chain on Friday as it pushed towards Taiwan and onto China, leaving at least 23 people injured.

Thousands were evacuated from eastern China in preparation for the storm which left five dead in the Philippines earlier in the week after heavy rains.

The powerful typhoon - categorised as a "super typhoon" by some regional weather bureaus - was moving northwest between the islands of Okinawa and Miyako on Friday morning, with recorded gusts of 234kmh, the Japan Meteorological Agency said.

As trees were uprooted and buildings battered at least 23 people were injured and 180 evacuated across the area, the Tokyo Broadcasting System said.

The meteorological agency warned that strong winds and high waves would continue to pound the island chain where 42,000 households have been left without power.

The storm left five dead in the Philippines, including three children, as it swept through from Tuesday with flooding almost a metre (three feet) deep in the northern island of Luzon and 1,500 people displaced.

Chan-hom began to bear down on Taiwan on Friday, where the weather bureau categorised it as a "severe typhoon".

The island's stock market was closed and schools and offices shut as heavy rainfall and fierce winds battered the north.

Troops have been deployed to northeastern areas and fishing boats called back to ports.

Mountain communities were particularly at risk with warnings over landslides, authorities said. The township of Chien-shih in Hsinchu county was deluged with 150 mm of rainfall overnight and into Friday morning.

"As the storm is swirling towards the waters off the north and northeast, rains and winds are expected to be on the rise," the weather bureau said.

A number of flights in and out of Okinawa and northern Taiwan have been cancelled.

China's National Meteorological Center issued a red alert, the highest, on Friday morning for Chan-Hom, according to state news agency Xinhua.

The storm is due to pass northern Taiwan overnight before making landfall on the east coast of mainland China.

More than 10,000 people have been evacuated from the coastal province of Zhejiang and 10,000 fishing vessels returned to harbour for shelter.

People on coastal fishing farms in Fujian province were also asked to move out Friday morning.

Chan-hom was expected to hit eastern China's coastline early Saturday and is forecast to change course and head northeast toward Shanghai and the Korean peninsula.

Hot on the heels of Chan-hom, Typhoon Nangka was swelling over the Pacific Ocean Friday and is expected to travel northwest towards Japan's Ryukyu Islands in the coming days. The Japan Meteorological Agency described the intensity of the storm as "very strong".

Hong Kong had been braced on Thursday for severe tropical storm Linfa but it weakened after making landfall on the coast of the southern Chinese province of Guangdong and skirted the city late at night making little impact.

AFP