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Typhoon Maemi hits Miyako Island; 93 people injured

Date Posted: 2003-09-19

Typhoon Maemi swept through Miyako Island last Thursday morning, injuring at least 70 people and disrupting air and sea traffic. Officials say Typhoon Maemi was one of the most powerful typhoons in 30 years. The Okinawa Meteorological Bureau said the maximum wind velocity was recorded at 74.1 m/s or 266.76 kph, the 7th highest on record. The wind was accompanied with heavy rainfall of as much as 60 mm per hour.

Most of the injuries were caused by broken window glass. One 86-year-old woman who had been hospitalized died of heart attack after she was transferred to another hospital when the window in her hospital room broke, injuring her slightly. About 22,000 households, or 95 percent of the total, were left without electricity according to local authorities. By weekend 7,500 households were still without power.

The power outage also affected Hirara City waste disposal facility. The city set up a temporary disposal facility, but that filled up in a few days and city officials are appealing to people to keep their waste and garbage temporarily in their houses. The wind also knocked down three wind generators in Hennazaki area. Officials said the units were designed to withstand winds up to 100 m/s.

Airlines say a total of 110 local flights were canceled, affecting 8,000 people. The wind also shattered the windows of the air traffic control tower at Miyako Airport, and part of the control room ceiling was damaged. The telecommunications equipment in the tower was also damaged forcing the operators to switch to emergency backup equipment.

The Japanese Self Defense Force dispatched personnel to assist in recovery work. Okinawa Electric Power Co. also sent technicians to repair power lines and restore power. The recovery work is expected to continue through this week.

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