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Kompasu first typhoon to lash Okinawa in years

Date Posted: 2010-09-02

Typhoon Kompasu roared across central Okinawa Tuesday afternoon and evening, packing wind gusts of up to 134 miles per hour as it continued its Pacific travels en route to a Thursday collision with North and South Korea.

It was the first typhoon to strike Okinawa since July 2007, when Man-Yi unleashed its devastation in the region. Kompasu plunged more than 32,400 households into darkness as power failed, mostly in the Nago and Onna areas. Seven people were injured, none seriously, and no deaths were reported from the typhoon’s six-hour sojourn across local waters and land. Seventeen families were evacuated as safety precautions as authorities feared their residences could collapse.

Tourist and other travelers bore the brunt of Kompasu’s fury, as 221 flights to and from Naha International Airport were canceled. More than 25,000 tourists were stranded at the airport, where they spent Tuesday night due to a shortage of hotel accommodations. Airline officials said most whose flights were canceled would get out of Okinawa Wednesday, or Thursday latest, as passengers with reservations would have priority.

At Nakijin’s Unten Port in northern Okinawa, four small cargo vessels were damaged when winds blew them onto the rocks. No injuries were reported and none of the ships sank. Nago City routed traffic around its landmark Himpun Kajimaru tree, just in case the old tree were to blow down. It did not.

Schools across the island were closed Tuesday. The highest winds were recorded at 56.4 meters per second (126.2 miles per hour) on Izena Island, while Nago City registered winds of 49.6m/s (111mph). Typhoon Kompasu completed its journey across Okinawa and was out to sea about 9:30 p.m. Tuesday.

Several typhoons came close to Okinawa in 2008—Sinlaku and Rammasun—and Melor flirted with an Okinawa visit in 2009 as it traced a super typhoon track southeast of the island, headed for mainland Japan. The most destructive typhoon last year, Morakot, vented its fury on Taiwan and China, while Super Typhoons Lupit and Parma wove wacky tracks across the western Pacific that avoided Okinawa.

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