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Japan: Typhoon Khanun lashes Okinawa

August 2, 2023

A slow-moving, powerful typhoon has hit the island of Okinawa, knocking out power and killing at least one person. Hundreds of flights to Okinawa and other islands in southwestern Japan have been canceled.

Scattered debris litters a downtown street as high winds brought by Typhoon Khanun hit the city of Naha, Okinawa
While Okinawa is used to tropical storms, they generally arrive later in the yearImage: JIJI Press/AFP

Typhoon Khanun battered Japan's southwest islands on Wednesday, knocking out power to hundreds of thousands of people on the island of Okinawa and leaving at least one person dead. 

Emergency officials said that a 90-year-old man was crushed by a collapsing garage and died of cardiac arrest, public broadcaster NHK reported. 

The Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA) described the slow-moving typhoon as "very strong," with maximum sustained wind speeds of 180 kilometers (111 miles) per hour.

Television footage showed high winds flipping over cars in parking lots. The JMA reported wind gusts reaching nearly 200 kilometers per hour in some locations on Okinawa. More than 250 millimeters (9.8 inches) of rain has fallen in 24 hours, according to the JMA. 

Power knocked out, transport stopped 

Around 35% of households in the region, numbering 220,580 in total, were experiencing power outages as of Wednesday morning, according to the Okinawa Electric Power company's website.

Mobile operators said phone and internet connections were disrupted in some areas because of the power outage.

Hundreds of flights to Okinawa and other islands in southwestern Japan were canceled, affecting over 65,000 passengers and stranding some tourists at beach resorts. 

Airport at Naha, Okinawa remains closed due to typhoon Khanun
Typhoon Khanun has come to Okinawa during peak tourist seasonImage: Kyodo News/AP/dpa/picture alliance

The airport in Okinawa's capital city, Naha, remained closed for a second day on Wednesday. Over 30 ferry lines were also suspended, according to Japan's Transport Ministry.

The Fire and Disaster Management Agency has issued an evacuation warning across Okinawa and the southern part of the Kagoshima region, directing more than 690,000 residents to leave their homes for safety. The JMA has warned of floods and landslides in parts of the Okinawa island.

Where is Khanun heading next?

The JMA said it expected the typhoon to move through the East China Sea toward China's Zhejiang province and north of Taiwan by Friday. The storm is then expected to turn toward the northeast, potentially heading to Japan's third-largest island, Kyushu.

China is currently reeling from the devastation brought about by Typhoon Doksuri. On Wednesday, officials in Beijing said the 744 millimeters (29 inches) of rain that fell on the Chinese capital between Saturday and Wednesday was the heaviest rainfall recorded in 140 years.

mk/wmr (AFP, Reuters)