One of the most powerful typhoons in decades churned toward the Korean Peninsula yesterday after lashing Japan’s Okinawa with heavy rains and wind, leaving at least five injured.
Typhoon Bolaven hit the southern Japanese Ryukus island chain on Sunday, packing winds of up to 252kph, the Japanese meteorological agency said.
Five people were injured ,with about 550 others forced to evacuate in the wake of the typhoon, one of the strongest since the weather agency started keeping records six decades ago.
Residents of the Okinawan capital, Naha, were advised to stay indoors as public broadcaster NHK showed footage of deserted streets lined with trees felled by strong winds.
As of 11am, the typhoon was about 300km north of Naha, moving north at a speed of 40kph with gusts of up to 216kph, the agency said.
The storm was expected to pass near South Korea’s Jeju Island early today before moving toward the Korean Peninsula, the weather agency said.
Traffic in Okinawa remained paralyzed yesterday, with all flights to and from Naha airport and ships linking the main island with smaller islands in the chain canceled.
“But if the weather permits, airlines may be able to resume flights in the afternoon,” an airport official said.
On Sunday, roads and bus services were closed on the island, while an elevated rail link in Naha city was also shut down, news reports said.
About 17,500 homes in Okinawa and 58,300 homes in Kagoshima Prefecture, just south of the Japanese mainland, were hit by blackouts, according to local governments.
More than half of the 50,000 US 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.