Super Typhoon Meranti has hit Taiwan, cutting power to nearly 200,000 homes, forcing schools and businesses to close and cancelling domestic flights.
Taiwan's Central Weather Bureau warned that the Category 5 storm would threaten several southern and eastern cities, including Kaohsiung and Hualien, with strong winds, torrential rain and flooding.
Meranti was carrying maximum winds of 216 kmp/h, meteorologists said. Fallen power cables and trees were among some of the early damage reported.
"This typhoon is the world's strongest so far this year," the bureau's spokeswoman, Hsieh Pei-yun, said. "Its impact on Taiwan will peak all day today."
Companies and schools in Kaohsiung and other cities have closed, and almost 1500 residents have been evacuated, the Central Emergency Operation Center said in a statement.
Nearly 200,000 households were without power, according to the Taiwan Power Company. Most domestic flights have been cancelled, including all of those from Kaohsiung Airport, where international flights were also severely affected.
Taiwan would feel the full force of the typhoon through Wednesday and into Thursday (Taiwan time) before the storm barreled into China, meteorologists said.
Meranti was expected to make landfall in the southern Chinese provinces of Guangdong and Fujian on Thursday, where authorities were already cancelling train services and preparing to evacuate people, state media said.
Typhoon Meranti comes just over two months after the deadly typhoon Nepartak cut power, grounded flights and forced thousands to flee their homes across central and southern areas of Taiwan.
In 2009, Typhoon Morakot cut a swath of destruction through southern Taiwan, killing about 700 people and causing up to $US3 billion of damage.