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Taiwan issues warnings for year's first typhoon as thousands evacuated

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TAIPEI (Reuters) – Taiwan moved thousands of people to safety on Wednesday as the island braced for its first typhoon this year, as airlines cancelled domestic flights and authorities issued warnings about floods and high seas.

Typhoon Danas, categorised at the weakest typhoon level, was expected to hit the eastern county of Yilan late on Thursday. It was moving across the ocean in a northwesterly direction at 18 kph (11 mph), weather officials said.

More than 2,000 people were moved to safety, most of them tourists on islands off its east coast, authorities said.

Nearly two dozen domestic flights and ferry services were cancelled, while troops were put on standby in some areas amid fears of heavy rain, which can trigger landslides and flooding.

Typhoons regularly hit Taiwan, China, the Philippines and Japan in the second half of the year, gathering strength from the warm waters of the Pacific Ocean or South China Sea.

Typhoon Morakot devastated Taiwan in 2009, killing nearly 700 people, most of them in landslides.

(Reporting By Yimou Lee; Editing by Robert Birsel)

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