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150 mph Typhoon Winds Whip Island

Date Posted: 2000-09-15

The strongest typhoon of the season hit Okinawa this week with winds of 45 meters per second or 150 miles an hour in Naha City on Tuesday. Nago’s highest wind speeds were 42 meters per second. Typhoon Saomai also caused a record rainfall of up to 10 inches in the Nagoya area in mainland Japan. The rain caused a levee to break in Nagoya and the ensuing flood drove 200,000 people out of their homes, who had to take shelter in schools and other public buildings.

Another 100,000 people were trapped in trains, which were unable to continue running on their tracks. In Okinawa, buses, ferry traffic and all flights were stopped from Monday afternoon. About 30 tourists spent the night at the airport after not being able to find hotel rooms. Buses started again on Tuesday morning. The typhoon slowly moved across the island and air traffic did not resume until Wednesday afternoon.

Schools closed on Monday and all fishing boats were moored in ports, unable to go out to the sea. The boats had been in their ports since Friday last week, as the tropical storm Bopha that passed Okinawa over the weekend forced them to stay home. Within the prefecture, 8,100 households were without power, mostly in central and northern parts of the island. Power was restored by Wednesday afternoon.

In three municipalities, 24 people were forced to seek shelter after their houses were damaged. Three families had to evacuate after the roofs of their houses were damaged in Kin Town. A boy from mainland Japan on school tour in Okinawa suffered the only injury caused by the typhoon. He was hospitalized after a hotel window he tried to open slammed shut and crushed two of his fingers. The boy was taken to hospital for treatment. Other damage included mudslides and some fallen utility poles. Assessment of the damage to agriculture will take place after the typhoon has subsided.

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