Typhoon Phanfone leaves two dead, two missing

A big and powerful typhoon, Phanfone, barely touched the main island of Okinawa over the weekend, but high waves whipped up by the strong winds claimed the lives of two persons on Okinawa and left two more missing and presumed dead.

Three airmen from Kadena AB were swept out to the ocean as they were trying to take pictures of the high waves at the coast of Yona, Kunigami, in the northern part of the island. According to local police, a group of six American servicemen had gone to the coast to see the high waves. Three of them had gone down to the shore and climbed on a rock, against which the waves crashed, in order to take pictures with the crashing waves as the background. However, a high wave swept all three from the rock and carried them out to the sea.

A Japanese Coast Guard rescue helicopter found one of the three two hours later about 200 meters from the spot floating unconscious face down. He was taken to a hospital where he died shortly. The two others are still missing and search efforts are ongoing.

A 58-year-old woman at Cape Zanpa in Yomitan fell into the ocean, Saturday morning, because of the strong winds. Her body was later found off the shore of Isa, Chatan.

In Itoman, three high school students playing on the beach were swept out to the sea. Two of them were able to swim back to the shore on their own. The third was rescued by a Japanese Coast Guard helicopter.

Kita-Daito Island east of Okinawa that the typhoon hit with its full force, registered maximum wind velocity of 45.3 meters per second at 2:35 p.m. Sunday, and 245.5 mm of rainfall over a 24-hour period, which is the heaviest rainfall in October on record ever in Okinawa Prefecture.  Both Kita and Minami-Daito Islands temporarily lost power to 300 households, and sustained some property damage, such as a garage roof being blown off.

Heading north towards Tokyo, Phanfone made landfall in Hamamatsu, Shizuoka Prefecture, early Monday morning. The typhoon that packs 180 km/h winds s expected to hit Tokyo later today. And is expected to affect trains and other public transportation inconveniencing millions of commuters.

The typhoon grounded more than 600 flights nationwide and forced authorities to suspend the search for bodies of those still missing more than a week after a volcano erupted, claiming dozens of lives.

Meanwhile, the next typhoon, Vongfong, is already following in the footsteps of Phanfone. Vongfong is currently located in the Marianas ad heading towards Okinawa where it’s expected to arrive by the 10th.

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