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Typhoon Usagi approaches Taiwan, Philippines

By Associated Press

LAST UPDATED: 5:00 a.m. HST, Sep 19, 2013

TAIPEI, Taiwan >> A powerful typhoon was approaching the northern Philippines and southern Taiwan today and was expected to strengthen into one of the most violent storms of the season, weather officials said.

Taiwan's Central Weather Bureau said Typhoon Usagi was about 900 kilometers (560 miles) southeast of Taiwan's southernmost Hengchun peninsula and moving northwest into the Bashi Channel separating Taiwan and the Philippines. It was expected to bring strong winds and heavy rain to both areas.

Packing winds of 108 mph and gusts of 131 mph, it was likely to strengthen rapidly into one of the most violent typhoons this year, with its eye expected to pass just south of Taiwan, the weather bureau said.

It is expected to begin bringing heavy rain to the northern Philippines and southern Taiwan on Friday.

Sustained winds near the eye could reach 163 mph with gusts of 197 mph by late Friday as the storm passes through the Bashi Channel toward China, the U.S. Navy's Joint Typhoon Warning Center said.

Philippine officials issued storm warnings today for seven northern provinces, including flash flooding, landslides and storm surges, until Sunday, while Taiwan was expected to issue a sea alert late today and a land alert Friday.

Usagi is expected to make landfall in China on Monday near the Pearl River Delta.

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