Typhoon Khanun knocks out power to one-third of Japan's Okinawa homes


High winds hit power lines in Japan's popular tourist destination Okinawa, knocking out electricity to more than 200,000 households on Wednesday morning, as powerful and slow-moving typhoon Khanun neared the country's southwestern islands.

So far there has been one death reported and 11 people injured.

Nearly 700,000 people in the tropical prefecture, a popular tourist destination some 1,600 km southwest of Japan's capital Tokyo, were advised to evacuate, with the storm moving northwest at 10 kph, the Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA) said.

High winds had flipped cars over in several parking lots, TV footage showed. Rain battered empty streets as trees swayed and the wind kicked up waves in a flooded street. Some locations in Okinawa logged wind gusts of nearly 200 kph on Wednesday morning and had more than 250mm of rain in the past 24 hours, according to JMA.

Local utility Okinawa Electric Power said about 210,000 homes were experiencing power outages as of 1:00 pm Japan time (0400 GMT), according to its website.

Kyushu Electric Power said power supply was down for 10,030 houses in Amami islands in Kagoshima prefecture, north of Okinawa.

Mobile operators SoftBank Corp and KDDI said phone and internet connections in some areas in Okinawa were disrupted due to the power outage.

In Okinawa's capital city Naha, the airport was entirely closed for a second day on Wednesday. A total of 951 flights have been cancelled on Tuesday and Wednesday, while 35 ferry lines suspended operations, Japan's transportation ministry said.

Japan Airlines said it may ground more flights to and from airports in Okinawa on Thursday and Friday as well. ANA also indicated chance of additional cancellation.

Major courier companies Yamato Holdings and SG Holdings' Sagawa Express halted all parcel deliveries to Okinawa from other areas in Japan due to the transportation disruption.

The prefectural government office, Japan Post's post offices, San-A supermarkets and Aeon's grocery and drug stores in Okinawa were shut on Wednesday.

The storm is hitting during the peak summer tourist season, which this year has seen the number of visitors return to pre-pandemic levels. Okinawa is frequently hit by typhoons, but usually later in the year.

Okinawa is host to the bulk of US forces in Japan, and personnel on Kadena Air Base - one of the largest installations - have been urged to take all necessary precautions.

JMA predicts the typhoon will move westward through the East China Sea toward China's Zhejiang and Fujian provinces and north of Taiwan by Friday, but then turn northeastward, potentially heading to Japan's third-largest island, Kyushu.

Typhoon Khanun comes just days after the region was hit by typhoon Doksuri, which slammed northern China in one of the worst storms in over a decade and damaged rice production in the Philippines.

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