UK & World News

  • 8 July 2014, 12:39

'Dangerous' Typhoon Races Towards Japan Islands

A warning of significant damage to property has been issued in coastal regions of western Japan as Typhoon Neoguri continues its path across the country.

Half a million people in Okinawa Prefecture have been urged to evacuate, with Japan's main broadcaster NHK warning of possible "extensive damage" caused by a storm surge.

The storm was downgraded from its super-typhoon status overnight and its core appears to have missed the southern Japanese islands.

But even its periphery has brought strong winds, with a speed of 107mph recorded on Okinawa Island.

Airports and schools have been closed in Okinawa and fishermen have been told to return to port.

Residents in some areas have been told to remain in their homes and others living in low-lying areas told to evacuate.

On Ishigaki island, south of Okinawa and approximately 75 miles west of the eye of the storm, residents took precautions in an effort to protect their property.

Cars were secured to the ground using ropes and loose debris cleared away.

According to NHK, one woman sustained a head injury and one fisherman is missing after he was swept from his boat.

There are no reports of any other casualties.

Japan is used to storms and many people appear to have heeded the advice of the authorities.

Keiji Furuya, chairman of the National Public Safety Commission, urged residents to "take refuge as early as possible".

Although the storm has been downgraded and will lose much of its power once it makes landfall, the rain levels are a significant concern.

The storm is unusually early in the typhoon season and comes just at the end of the rainy season.

Saturated ground will be unable to absorb much of the rain due to fall in the coming hours.

The speed and wide area of the storm are both further concerns.

It is moving slowly in a northerly direction and is due to turn eastwards overnight into Wednesday, taking it straight over the Japanese mainland.

It is expected to reach Tokyo later this week.

Okinawa is home to the American Air Force base Kadena.

Aircraft have been flown to other bases in the Pacific to avoid any damage to them, after the commander of the base warned of the dangers posed by the storm.

Brigadier-General James Heckler said: "I can't stress enough how dangerous this typhoon may be when it hits Okinawa.

"This is the most powerful typhoon forecast to hit the island in 15 years. This is not just another typhoon.

"If we all follow the typhoon procedures and take care of each other, we will all make it through this typhoon safely."

Authorities in Philippines, which was hit by the world's strongest ever recorded typhoon in November, have said the storm did not make landfall, passing 300 miles east of the country.

The Chinese, Taiwanese and South Korean governments have all warned their ships to stay clear of the storm.

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