JAPAN | Powerful typhoon pounds Okinawa islands
A powerful typhoon pummeled the southern Japanese islands of Okinawa yesterday, paralyzing transport and prompting U.S. forces based there to cancel all outdoor activity.
The Okinawan government said 10 people were injured, one seriously. Separately, a man was reported missing from a fishing boat in rough seas off Kyushu island, to the north.
One of the strongest and biggest typhoons to hit during Japan's summer months, Typhoon Neoguri was packing sustained winds of 194 kilometers per hour and gusts up to 240 kph, the Japan Meteorological Agency said.
"Please refrain from nonessential activities and from approaching hazardous areas," said Meteorological Agency official Satoshi Ebihara. "Please show extreme caution."
Local airports were closed and about 593,000 people were advised to evacuate their homes, though most remained put, taking refuge from the destructive winds, waves up to 14 meters (46 feet) high and storm surges that were set to intensify as the storm passed the main island of Okinawa in the evening.
More than half of the 50,000 U.S. troops in Japan are based in Okinawa, the location of several bases, including Kadena, the biggest U.S. air base in Asia. An advisory on its website said the storm was at a level for which all outdoor activity was prohibited.
Television footage showed a building shattered, damaged storefronts and trees toppled as winds picked up in the Okinawan capital of Naha.
Since typhoons track along Japan's coasts, often veering onshore every summer, the country is relatively well prepared. Much greater damage is likely from torrential rains if the typhoon hits land as expected tomorrow or Friday and moves across the Japanese archipelago.
The storm was moving slowly and diminishing in intensity, but its wide area and slow movement could add to the potential damage, weather forecasters said.
Authorities in China and Taiwan also warned ships to stay clear of the storm. AP
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