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May-Li flips cars, cancels flights as it sweeps across Okinawa

Date Posted: 2007-07-14

Super Typhoon May-Li roared across Okinawa packing winds of 56.3 meters per second Friday, overturning vehicles, knocking down trees, utility poles and traffic signs, and injuring 23.

The first typhoon in three years to land a direct strike on Okinawa, May-Li knocked out power to 108,000 homes as it passed Friday. Naha Airport canceled 331 flights, stranding 36,000 travelers. The super typhoon also canceled passenger ferries, buses and the Naha Monorail, and the Okinawa Expressway remains closed as of Saturday morning. As May-Li continues to Kyushu and further areas in mainland Japan, more flights from Naha to affected areas will be canceled on Saturday and Sunday.

Officials report no structural damage to Okinawa buildings, although 19 houses in Ginoza Village were flooded. Offshore waves reached 12 meters, but no tidal surge materialized. The strongest winds were in Naha City at 56.3 m/s, with Nago City recording 44.3 m/s at 10:54 a.m., and Okinawa City 50.9 m/s at 10:30 a.m. The eye of the storm passed over Naha City at 10 a.m.

One 4.9-ton fishing boat sank at Chatan Fishing Port, and Okinawa Prefecture Police evacuated 60 people to public halls on Tonaki Island and Nago City during the storm. Four vehicles turned on their side, including a truck and a van on Highway 58 in Naha. The drivers were not injured.

Of the 23 injured, one was a 48-year-old man who suffered serious injuries after being blown from his roof six meters to the ground while trying to adjust the TV antenna at his Chatan home. A 26-year-old Naha City woman was buffeted by winds and fell, while a 26-year-old Uruma City factory worker sustained head injuries after being struck by a flying object.

More than 350mm rain has been recorded in Naha City.

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