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Taiwan records world’s third most powerful wind gust ever as Typhoon Koinu hits

A category four cyclone has produced one of the strongest wind gusts ever recorded worldwide, and injured almost 200 people as it crossed the southern tip of Taiwan early on Thursday.

Typhoon Koinu brought wind gusts of up to 95.2 metres per second, or 342.7km/h (212.9mph) when it crossed Taiwan’s outer Lanyu (Orchid) island on Wednesday night. The Central Weather Administration (CWA) told the Guardian it was the highest wind gust recorded in Taiwan since the organisation was founded in 1986. The gust destroyed the island’s anemometer, the CWA said.

The gust appears to be the third-strongest recorded globally. In 1996 Western Australia’s Barrow Island recorded a 408km/h gust, which broke the record set in 1934 when a 372km/h gust was recorded in the US on Mount Washington in New Hampshire.

Satellite image of typhoon koinuAfter skirting north of the Philippines, Typhoon Koinu approached the south-eastern coast of Taiwan. Photograph: Nasa Earth/Zuma Press Wire/Shutterstock

Koinu, which means “puppy” in Japanese, made landfall on the Hengchun peninsula in Taiwan’s far south as a category four typhoon. Fire services reported 190 people were injured, mostly in west coast cities, including Taichung, Tainan and Kaohsiung. Chiayi’s emergency operation centre said some of the injured included people who were riding their scooters and fell in the strong winds or were hit by falling branches. More than 62,000 homes and businesses were without power by midday Thursday.

Waves of up to seven metres were reported, and videos online show significant damage to houses and shopfronts along coastal areas.

The eye of the storm, allowing for a glimpse of the mess already made by #Koinu. I saw ambulances and a hearse go by earlier. Possibly more damage to come. pic.twitter.com/czfnyn7YrP

— Sally Jensen Cusicahua (@sljnsn) October 4, 2023

The storm prompted authorities to close schools and offices across much of Taiwan, although the capital, Taipei, operated as normal. Ferries and domestic flights were suspended or cancelled.

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Koinu is the second typhoon to make landfall in Taiwan this year, after Haikui hit the island in September, prompting landslides, mass evacuations and dozens of injuries. No typhoon had directly hit Taiwan for four years, despite its location in an active tropical storm zone.

Additional research by Chi-hui Lin