Source AP ©

Strong typhoon ravages Japan's Okinawa

A powerful typhoon pounded Japan's southern Okinawa island chain Friday, injuring residents, cutting power to tens of thousands of households and grounding hundreds of flights, officials said.

Typhoon Man-Yi has injured 17 people, Okinawa prefecture (state) government said in a statement. A gust of wind knocked one man in his 70s to the ground, seriously injuring his head, the prefecture said.

Man-Yi clocked sustained wind speeds of up to 162 kilometers (100 miles) per hour as it stormed past Naha, the prefectural capital of Okinawa, the Meteorological Agency said. Public broadcaster NHK showed footage of a steel structure at a golf driving range in central Okinawa knocked to the ground and a parked delivery truck turned on its side.

The typhoon is moving north at 30 kilometers (18.6 miles) per hour and is forecast to hit the southern main island of Kyushu on Saturday, the agency said. It is expected to then rake Japan's Pacific coast toward Tokyo, but the agency did not say if or when the typhoon would hit the capital.

At least 100 people were evacuated from flooded areas across Okinawa, the prefecture's government said. Nearly 98,000 of Okinawa's households, about one-sixth of its total, were without power, it said. Tomoko Sunagawa, an official of Okinawa Electric Power Co. said it was not immediately clear when power would be restored. "It is raining hard and the wind is very strong. It looks all white outside," Sunagawa said by phone from Naha.

Airlines canceled hundreds of flights, mainly those flying between Okinawa and Kyushu. Japan Airlines said it canceled nearly 250 flights for Friday alone, affecting more than 22,000 passengers, and have decided to cancel at least 10 of Saturday's flights. All Nippon Airlines grounded more than 100 flights in the region, according to an airline statement.

Thirty houses were flooded, the Okinawa government said. Heavy rain pouring at a rate of more than 5 centimeters (2 inches) an hour inundated Kyushu Friday morning, the Meteorological Agency said. The agency warned of heavy rains, high waves, and strong winds. Up to 50 centimeters (20 inches) of rain is expected to fall on Kyushu by noon Saturday, it said.