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Tornado touches down In northern Okinawa

Date Posted: 2006-11-25

Three Marines were slightly injured Saturday as a freak tornado hit Camp Schwab in northern Okinawa.

The tornado damaged 19 cars at the base, flipping four of them over. The gusting winds hit at 1pm, cutting power lines on the base. A Camp Schwab PX worker witnessed one car being overturned. “I saw the sky get dark, and then cars were blowing off,” Michiko Gazuya said. “I thought that war had come.”

The car she saw overturned belonged to AAFES barber Masayuki. Toyama. “I have never seen that kind of wind,” he said sadly. “I felt the wind”.

The twister slammed the nearby Henoko Fishing Port, tearing off a radio communications antenna on a fishing boat, battering boats moored in the bay, and knocking down trees. No injuries were reported outside Camp Schwab.

The three Marines were hit with flying debris, and suffered lacerations. One was briefly hospitalized, according to a police spokeswoman.

Tornadoes are rare in Japan, and even more unusual in Okinawa. Saturday’s incident came only ten days after a powerful tornado ripped through Saroma, an isolated town in Hokkaido, killing nine people and collapsing buildings. That tornado, which damaged vehicles and knocked down utility lines and poles, was called the nation’s worst ever. A tornado struck northern Okinawa Henoko district in 2002.

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