Powerful typhoon hits Japan’s Okinawa island

7 years ago by in Featured, Japan

More than 75,000 households lacked power on Monday after a powerful typhoon lashed the southern Japanese island of Okinawa, injuring four people but doing less damage than feared before moving off to sea.

Weather officials had warned that Typhoon Bolaven would be the strongest to hit the region in several years, but its gusts weren’t as powerful as predicted.

Disaster authorities reported no major damage as of early Monday aside from the blackouts.

Roughly 75,000 households were without power on Okinawa and the nearby Amami islands as heavy rain and winds continued Monday. Many schools and government offices were closed because of the blackouts. Much of the public transportation system — including buses, shipping and airlines — had also not yet been restored, officials said.

The center of the slow-moving storm, the 15th of the season, passed over the island late Sunday and was moving northwest into the East China Sea on Monday. It could affect coastal areas of South Korea by Tuesday, weather officials said.

As the typhoon approached Okinawa on Sunday, the Japan Meteorological Agency said wind speeds near the center of the typhoon were about 180 kilometers per hour (112 miles per hour), with gusts reaching 252 kph (155 mph), possibly equaling or surpassing past records for the area.

But public broadcaster NHK reported that the gusts measured on the island of Amami, north of Okinawa, reached just 140 kph (87 mph).

Okinawa disaster authorities said four people were hurt.

More than half of the 50,000 U.S. troops based in Japan are stationed in Okinawa. At Kadena Air Base, one of the biggest bases on the island, all shops and service facilities were ordered closed and movement around the base was to be kept to a minimum. All entry into the ocean was prohibited.

Bolaven comes on the heels of Typhoon Tembin, which soaked southern Taiwan on Friday, largely sparing populated areas before blowing out to sea again.


Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.