Residents of Japan's southwestern islands were warned of high winds and rain through the weekend once a nearly stationary Typhoon Khanun starts moving back east later Friday.
The forecast U-turn will bring Khanun across Okinawa and nearby islands that were already lashed by its winds and rain earlier this week. Khanun had sustained surface winds of 126 kph with higher gusts Friday morning, the Japan Meteorological Agency said. Up to 15 centimetres of rain was expected in the Okinawa region by Saturday and up to 30 centimetres in the Amami region, an island group belonging to the southern main island of Kyushu, by Sunday, JMA said.
Khanun had been stronger, with sustained winds of 180 kph, when it crossed the islands Tuesday, damaging homes and knocking out power. The Okinawa prefectural government said 44 people were injured, three of them seriously. Two deaths were being investigated as typhoon-caused but are not in the official death toll.
The storm at one point left nearly 220,000 homes, or about 30 per cent, of those in Okinawa, without power, according to the Okinawa Electric Power Company. By Friday morning, about 50,000 still lacked electricity, according to the Economy and Industry Ministry.
Okinawa's airport was packed with passengers stranded since earlier this week. About 80 Hong Kong travellers had been stuck in a hotel that lost Wednesday, said Steve Huen, executive director of Hong Kong-based travel agency EGL Tours. He said 26 of them flew home Thursday, and the rest of the group were to leave Friday.
Khanun's reversal will take it away from China, where rain from an earlier typhoon caused severe flooding this week around Beijing.