Friday, July 13, 2007

Strong typhoon hits Japan A powerful typhoon with torrential rains and high winds has struck the southern Japanese islands of Okinawa. Typhoon Man-yi is currently predicted to turn north towards the nation's main islands and then east towards Tokyo on Monday. The storm - classified as a category four typhoon with 100mph and gusts of up to 145mph - is expected to pound much of Japan with heavy rain over an extended holiday weekend.

More than 8,000 people have been advised to evacuate as up to 500mm (20 inches) of rain is expected to fall on some parts Kyushu island by Saturday morning, further battering areas already hit by heavy rains and flooding earlier this week.

Hundreds of flights have been cancelled and 100,000 people left without electricity as Typhoon Man-yi bore down on the tropical Okinawa island chain some 1,000 miles southwest of Tokyo. Eight people were injured, though none seriously.

Television footage showed a car on its side in the city of Naha having been blown over by wind, and cars ploughing through streets covered with water. Electric poles were toppled to the ground, one crushing a car.

A spokesman from a Japanese meteorology agency said: "This storm is moving rather slowly, which means that rain will fall for quite some time, especially in places like Kyushu."

The agency described the typhoon's speed as that of "somebody on a bicycle".

"Rain is the biggest worry with this storm. Given the rain that has already fallen in Kyushu, the chance of damage is high."

Meanwhile, 12 crew members of a Chinese ship are missing after the vessel sank on route from Papua New Guinea to China in strong winds and in seven metre (23ft) seas due to Typhoon Man-yi. Two men were rescued.

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