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Strengthening Typhoon Mitag threatens giant box terminals in Taiwan, China, South Korea, Japan

Northern Asia is again in the cross-hairs of an extreme weather event as Typhoon Mitag bears down on Taiwan. After Taiwan, it is forecast to smash into the eastern part of China, then the most southerly part of the Korean peninsula. It will hit Japan by the end of this week.

Seaports that handle millions of containers will be affected – including some of the world’s biggest ocean container terminals.

Typhoon Mitag is moving in a westerly/northwesterly direction at a rate of about 16 to 20 kilometers an hour (ten to 13 miles per hour) and by about 17:00 Taipei, Taiwan time (05:00 New York time), Mitag is immediately to the east of the island of Taiwan and north of the Philippines.

It has sustained wind speeds of 133 miles per hour according to the Korea Meteorological Administration. An official from that administration told the Yonhap News Agency that the typhoon is getting stronger as it passes over the warm waters of the South China Sea.

The forecast track map of Typhoon Mitag courtesy of the Korea Meteorological Administration.


FreightWaves spoke to a Taiwanese shipping agent this afternoon. He advised that Typhoon Mitag will strike northern Taiwan, so ocean shipping and ports to the north such as that out of Keelung (north-east) and Taipei will be affected but Kaohsiung in the far south west will not likely be affected.

Taiwan had a throughput of 14.97 million twenty foot equivalent unit ocean shipping containers in 2017, according to UNCTAD. Keelung had a box throughput of 1.47 million TEU in 2018, according to the Taiwan International Ports Corporation. Taipei had a box throughput of 1.66 million in the same year.

South Korea

By Wednesday morning, after Typhoon Mitag has finished with Taiwan, it is forecast by the Korea Meteorological Administration to head in a northerly / north-by west direction, making landfall at Wenzhou (390,000 TEU in the first half of 2019 according to the Chinese Ministry of Transport), before heading north-by-east to Taizhou (160,000 TEU), Ningbo-Zhoushan (13.91 million TEU), Jiaxing (900,000) and then Shanghai (21.54 million). According to UNCTAD, China had a total throughput (excluding Hong Kong and Taiwan) of 213.72 million TEU in 2017.


After China, by about Thursday morning, the typhoon is forecast to sharply curve away in a north-east-by-north direction across the East China Sea toward the southern tip of South Korea. The typhoon will likely run over Mokpo, Yeosu, Gwangyang, Masan, Busan and Ulsan. South Korea as a whole had 27.4 million TEU throughput in 2017 according to UNCTAD. The main container ports along the south coast of South Korea are Gwangyang (2.4 million TEU) and Busan (19.47 million) according to 2016 data from the Korean Maritime Institute.


After Korea, the typhoon will likely run along the western coast of Japan before blowing out into a low over northern Japan. Most of Japan’s main container terminals, such as Kobe, Osaka, Yokohama and Tokyo are on the south, south-east and east coasts and should likely be unaffected. Japan as a whole had 21.9 million TEU throughput in 2017, according to UNCTAD.