Thousands of people were evacuated from Taiwan as Super Typhoon Meranti – the strongest tropical cyclone this year – bypassed the southern tip of the country on Wednesday. Torrential rain and winds of 234 kmph hit about 90 km west-northwest of Hengchun township. The local observation centre there said this was the strongest gale it had recorded in its 120-year history. AFP reported.

Taiwanese authorities said more than 2.6 lakh houses were facing power outages across southern parts of the country, and two people were reported injured. At least 4,000 police and military and personnel have been deployed to the regions affected in anticipation of evacuations in the future, CNN reported. Schools and offices remain closed; air, rail and road traffic have been severely affected, and ferry services have also been halted, according to Xinhua news agency.

Meanwhile, China is preparing for the typhoon to make landfall in either its Guangdong or Fujian province on Thursday. Authorities put emergency measures in place as Meranti transformed from a Category 1 storm to a Category 5 typhoon in a little over 24 hours. The country's National Meteorological Center issued a red typhoon warning at 6 am (local time).

The last time Taiwan faced such a deadly storm was in 2009, when Super Typhoon Morakot made landfall and left more than 600 dead.