Taiwan is bracing itself for super typhoon Nepartak, a category 5 strength storm that could make landfall in the island nation on late Thursday (7 July) or early Friday. "Typhoon Nepartak was blowing gusts of up to 263 km (163 miles) an hour, some 780 km southeast of Taiwan's Hualien city at 0900 GMT," the Island's Central Weather Bureau said. It added that three metres of rain could batter some parts of Taiwan leading to flash floods and mudslides.

"As the typhoon kept gaining strength and approaching Taiwan over the past three hours, the Central Weather Bureau decided to issue a sea warning at 14:30 local time (06:30 GMT)," Chen Li Yang, a senior forecaster told AFP. "Residents must heighten their vigilance," he added.

Reports suggest that the typhoon has the potential of dumping at least a metre of rainfall in central Taiwan.

About 3,000 tourists from the popular tourist spots of Green and Orchard islands, just off south-eastern Taitung county, have been evacuated, local government officials said.

According to the Taiwan defence ministry, around 35,000 soldiers have been put on standby. Transport and Communications Minister Hochen Tan assured that all measures have been taken to prevent flooding at the Taoyuan international airport.

A typhoon becomes a super typhoon when its sustained winds reach 150 mph, which is equal to a category 5 hurricane.

In 2015, super typhoon Dujuan killed three people and injured more than 300 in Taiwan. In the same year, Typhoon Soudelor killed at least eight people in the country, while 21 were killed in China.

The typhoon is expected to slow down as it crosses the Taiwan Strait and reaches Fujian province in mainland China.