TOKYO (Reuters) - Japan's
weather agency on Monday issued emergency warnings to
urge people in the country's southern islands to take
maximum precautions as a super typhoon described as a
"once in decades storm" is set to rake the Okinawa
island chain with heavy rain and powerful winds.
Typhoon Neoguri was already gusting at more than 250 km an hour (150
mph) and may pick up still more power as it moves northwest, growing
into an "extremely intense" storm by Tuesday, the Japan
Meteorological Agency (JMA) said.
But it was not expected to be as strong as Typhoon Haiyan, which
killed thousands in the Philippines last year.
The JMA issued emergency storm and high sea warnings for Japan's
small southern island of Miyakojima, some 300 km (188 miles)
southwest of Okinawa island, and for a smaller nearby islet.
The agency said on Monday evening it also planned to issue an
emergency high sea warning for Okinawa island, host to
three-quarters of U.S. military facilities in Japan.
"In these regions, there is a chance of the kinds of storms, high
seas, storm surges and heavy rains that you've never experienced
before," a JMA official told a news conference.
"This is an extraordinary situation, where a grave danger is
The storm was south of Okinawa but moving northwest at 25 kph (16
mph) with sustained winds of 180 kph (110 mph) by 7:00 p.m. (1000
GMT), the JMA said on its web site.
The JMA official urged people in the target areas to evacuate early
and take precautions. Television showed fishermen winching their
boats out of the water.
There are no nuclear plants on Okinawa, but there are two on Kyushu,
Japan's westernmost main island that lies in the area through which
the typhoon is likely to pass, and one on Shikoku island, which
borders Kyushu and could also be affected.
All are halted in line with current national policy. A spokeswoman
at Kyushu Electric Power Co said there were no specific plans
related to this typhoon but the company had plans in place
year-round to protect the plants from severe weather.