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Okinawa slammed by torrential rains

Date Posted: 2007-08-12

Restaurants filled like tea cups with water, cars floated down streets, and an apartment building was evacuated after a heavy deluge of rain swept across Okinawa’s main island Saturday.
It was typhoon magnitude rains, but without the typhoon. Weather officials attribute the record 433mm (17.04 inches) downpour to a tropical depression moving southwest of Okinawa along the China Sea. It rained all day, triggering a dozen landslides and caused officials to issue both flood and landslide alarms across the island. The rains are expected to continue pounding Okinawa until Monday.
The Okinawa Expressway was closed between Ishikawa and Naha because of flooding, and a stretch of Highway 58 between Sunabe and Kadena was underwater and closed for hours. Dozens of cars in Naha City were damaged, some submerged under a 4˝-foot wall of water that surged from a river near the Seibu Orion Hotel at the northern end of Kokusai Street, while dozens of other automobiles had passenger compartments filled with water. Motorbikes and bicycles floated down the street, along with trash and debris.
Officials feared a high rise apartment building in Naha City would collapse after a large crack was seen opening in the parking area, and 119 families were evacuated. Construction work shaving away a slope underground was under way beneath the building, ironically to create a wall to protect the building from landslides.
Another apartment building under construction was being threatened, and officials evacuated dozens of people in nearby homes to a school and to the city’s Civil Hall. No injuries were reported anywhere on Okinawa, but airline flights to outer islands were cancelled. Agricultural crops were reported severely damaged by the storm.

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