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Military prepares to provide rescue assistance

TAIPEI--The military said Monday it has opened an emergency center and mobilized thousands of servicemen to be ready for disaster relief operations after a sea warning was issued Monday afternoon for the approaching Typhoon Matmo.

The Central Weather Bureau said a land warning is expected in the early hours Tuesday and warned of heavy rains in central and northern Taiwan starting later that day before the storm makes landfall in the northeastern county of Yilan or neighboring Hualien early Wednesday.

More than 47,000 servicemen have been placed on standby to provide relief and rescue assistance as needed, along with 22 helicopters, one transport plane, six AAV-7 amphibious assault vehicles and four V-150 commandos ready for deployment, the Ministry of National Defense said.

The military will continue closely following the situation to provide timely relief assistance, it said.

As of 8:30 p.m. Monday, the storm was centered 600 kilometers southeast of Eluanbi, the southernmost tip of Taiwan, moving north-northwest at a speed of 23 km per hour.

Matmo, expected to be the first typhoon to directly hit Taiwan this year, was packing sustained winds of 126 kph, with gusts reaching 162 kph, according to the weather bureau.

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