Typhoon topples structures, snaps trees as it batters Okinawa
Half a million people were urged to evacuate on Tuesday (July 8) as a powerful typhoon brought torrential rain and high winds to south-western islands in Japan. Typhoon Neoguri weakened from its original status as a super typhoon but remained intense, with winds gusting at more than 250 km per hour (155 mph). It was powering through the Okinawa island chain some 1,600 kilometres (1,000 miles) south-west of Tokyo where emergency rain and high-seas warnings were in effect. Holidaymakers on the resort island capital of Naha had to make plans to stay a few more days. Neoguri was roughly 110 km (68 miles) south-west of Kumejima island at noon (0300 GMT) and moving north at 25 kph (16 mph), with sustained winds of 180 kph (110 mph). Kadena Air Base, one of the largest U.S. military facilities on Okinawa, was on its highest level of storm alert and all outside activity was prohibited. A Japan Meteorological Agency official said the storm will maintain its strength as it heads north but gradually turn to the east, making landfall in Kyushu before raking its way up the main island of Honshu and coming close to Tokyo on Friday as a tropical storm. The Okinawan islands are regularly in the path of several typhoons a year. Some say the worst is now past them. Around two to four typhoons make landfall in Japan each year but they are unusual in July.