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Typhoon Saola moving north towards Taiwan. Image Credit: AP

Taiwan shut offices and canceled flights across parts of the south on Wednesday as Super Typhoon Saola sweeps past the island's southern tip, heading toward the Chinese coast after battering northern Philippines.

The Philippine weather bureau Pagasa hoisted the third-highest wind signal over northern areas, warning of a "dangerous" typhoon and risk of damage to structures in its bulletin this morning. Taiwan shut some offices and schools in parts of Kaohsiung and Pingtung and canceled more than a dozen flights.

Saola strengthened into a super typhoon Tuesday night as it traversed the waters of Batanes province, according to Pagasa. The typhoon prompted the evacuation of almost 50,000 people in the Philippines to safer grounds.

With the storm around 200 kilometers off Taiwan's southernmost point, Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. has activated routine typhoon preparation procedures at its fabs, including placing emergency response teams on standby, the company said in a statement.

TSMC has also completed inspections of all drainage and waterproof systems across the fab to ensure there are no blockages or obstructions, with everything found to be functioning properly.

The cyclone is 800 kilometers away from Hong Kong and is likely to close in on the southern Chinese coast east of Hong Kong by Thursday, according to a statement from the Hong Kong Observatory on Wednesday. It plans to issue the lowest typhoon warning this evening, it said separately.

The cyclone packs maximum sustained winds of 195 kilometers per hour (121 miles per hour) near the center and gusts of up to 240 kilometers. It's forecast to move northwestward and exit Philippine territory as early as Wednesday night.

Saola is projected to retain super-typhoon strength until Friday, and to move west along the coast of China's Guangdong province through the weekend before weakening into a severe tropical storm by Monday, according to the Philippine weather bureau.

One factor complicating forecasts is Tropical Cyclone Haikui, currently in the Pacific east of the northern Philippines, which may interact with Saola, causing uncertainty over its path and movement, according to the Hong Kong weather agency.