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Typhoon skirts island with little damage done

Date Posted: 2006-07-14

Typhoon Ewiniar had the potential to cause a lot of damage, and did just that in the southern reaches of the prefecture.

The typhoon swept past to the west of Okinawa Sunday, dumping a lot of rain and creating chaos for tourists. Seven injuries were reported, but none were serious.

The typhoon disrupted the weekend, canceling flights and ferries between Okinawa and both the mainland and outlying islands. ANA, JAL, ATA and RAC found themselves with more than 3,500 stranded tourists to deal with as hotels were already at near capacity.

Hundreds camped out at Naha International Airport, sprawled across the terminal floors, while volunteer groups appealed to Okinawa citizens to open their homes to tourists. Hundreds did just that, while hotels, Ryokan and Minshuku strained to accommodate every person they could.

Wary residents in the Nakagusuku Village Kita Uehara area were mindful of the heavy rains, which a few weeks ago triggered landslides and forced residents from an apartment complex. Many evacuated to safe locations in flatland areas.

Highest winds during the typhoon were 34.9 meters per second (78 miles per hour) in Naha, and 31.4 m/s (70mph) in Miyako Jima and Kume Island. Fire fighters across Okinawa were on high alert, patrolling area hillsides earlier weakened by downpours.

A number of injuries were reported on Okinawa, including a junior high school handball goaltender who was struck by his flying goal cage. He suffered head, body and facial injuries. In Urasoe City, a rigid shutters pole fell, striking a man. In Yomitan, flying plywood struck a man causing him minor injuries.

Seven were injured in Najou City’s Ozato area when a large iron signboard fell off, striking a 41-year-old passer-by in the head. A 60-year-old woman in Nago City was blown over by the winds. In Yaese Town, a seven-year-old girl caught her finger and broke bones in a door that slammed shut by the winds.

High winds blew beach sand 6-7cm deep up onto streets and roads, and into residential yards. Cleaning crews are working to get the sand back to the beaches, while others are cleaning windows and parking lots.

For agriculture, Typhoon Ewiniar was more damaging. Miyako Jima reports ¥20,000,000 in sugar cane and vegetables damage, while farmers in Ishigaki suffered losses when aircraft couldn’t fly loads of ripe pineapple and mango to Asian markets.

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