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Tornado spawns damage, horrible weekend weather

Date Posted: 2007-03-22

A water spout-turned-tornado raced across Okinawa’s northern reaches Thursday, turning deadly as it tore roofs off homes.

“Oh my God, we are still frightened. We have never heard fierce noise from winds before,” said one victim riding out the tornado in her Uruma City home. “Not even typhoons are as fierce like this tornado.” The tornado spun across the island for nearly 40 minutes before dissipating, but the rains continued for hours. It began its angry twisting in the Yomitan Village and Higa River areas fist, then traveled down into the Okinawa City Chibana area, and on to Uruma City.

Cars were turned upside down, windows were blown out, and at least 14 homes suffered damage. Roofs were ripped away on four homes in Yomitan Village. “My house, trees, containers, flower pots are all gone,” said a Yomitan Village woman. “It was really in a twinkle of the eye that the tornado took my house roof and car garage roof.” Both were found more than 300 meters away.

“It was a white color, foggy outside,” said another eyewitness to the tornado. “I couldn’t see anything but was very afraid of the loud winds. After a minute, the noise became like a rumbling, and I saw banana trees fall down, windows breaking and water pipes breaking and spitting water in the yard.” Still another reported “I didn’t know what was going on, I was so afraid.”

The twister struck the Kadena Ammunition Storage Area as it raced southeast, causing heavy damage. Officials report three military cars and two trucks have vanished and not been found. Toilets and tents also disappeared.

The Okinawa Weather Service issued warnings shortly before the tornado struck. Police and Prefecture officials are now investigating the extent of damages.

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