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Typhoon Nari blows through Okinawa

Date Posted: 2007-09-16

Packing the strongest winds ever recorded, Typhoon Nari pounded Kumejima late Friday night and early Saturday before moving across Okinawa’s main island wreaking even more havoc.
Kumejima Town registered wind speeds of 52.4 meters per second (118mph) beginning at 11 p.m., then buffeted the island with record breaking speeds of 62.8m/s (140mph) about 1:30 a.m. Landslide and flood warnings were issued for the Kerama Archipelago after 45.5mm (1.8”) of rain fell in an hour. Forecasters predicted 250mm (9.8”) rain for Okinawa by the time Typhoon Nari passed through.
More than 4,200 homes went dark in Kumejima Town as power lines fell, while another 300 Okinawa City houses lost power. A building wall collapsed under the rain in Naha City, but no injuries were reported.
Kumejima Town didn’t fare so well, as cars were flipped upside down, trees fell and the Town Assembly building had windows broken. Some 400 tourists were stranded, scurrying for places to stay after the airport was closed. A tourist visiting from Nago was distraught over the situation. “I tried to make a new reservation but they say it will be three days before I can get an airplane. I can’t wait three days,” he said, “because I am supposed to be back today.” He said he would standby at the airport and hope for a seat earlier.
Another tourist complained “I’ve never had this kind of problem before. The typhoon was none of my business.” All Nippon Airlines cancelled 54 flights, while Japan Air Lines cancelled 30, Ryukyu Air Commuter 24, and Skymark two flights. Airline officials say they’ve had 21,000 seat cancellations for flights to and from Okinawa because the airport will be closed for three days

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