Typhoon Maemi swept through Miyako Island in Okinawa Prefecture on Thursday morning, injuring at least 70 people and disrupting air traffic.
The Meteorological Agency has said Maemi is one of the most powerful typhoons to hit the prefecture in 30 years, adding that its strength is comparable to the 1959 typhoon that killed and injured numerous people in the Miyako Island area.
Aside from the injuries, some caused by broken window glass, about 22,000 households, or 95 percent of the total, on Miyako and a group of islands in the vicinity were left without electricity, according to local authorities.
Local officials were trying to examine the extent of the storm’s damage, but weather conditions were making work efforts near impossible, they said.
Prefectural officials said an 86-year-old woman who had been hospitalized in the city of Taira died after being transferred to another hospital.
Doctors decided to move her to Prefectural Miyako Hospital after she sustained minor injuries to her head when a window in her original hospital room shattered.
Her heart and lungs had already failed by the time she arrived at the second hospital around 3 a.m., and the cause of death was determined to be acute cardiovascular failure. Officials said her condition might have been adversely affected by her transfer.
A total of 110 local flights were canceled, affecting 8,000 people, airlines said.
Gusts shattered the windows of the air traffic control tower at Miyako Airport, and part of the control room ceiling was damaged, rendering telecommunications equipment useless.
A maximum wind velocity of 266.76 kph was recorded on the island at 3:12 a.m., while 60 mm of rain fell in the region per hour, the Meteorological Agency said.
The wind velocity was the seventh highest on record.
The typhoon, the season’s 14th, passed through Miyako Island shortly before 5 a.m. and was some 140 km west of Kumejima Island at 6 p.m. It was slowly heading north, according to the agency.
It had an atmospheric pressure of 920 hectopascals near its center.
Maemi may approach Japan’s main islands but was on course to hit the Korean Peninsula on Saturday, the agency said.
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