Powerful typhoon hits southern Japan

One of the most powerful typhoons in decades hit Japan's Okinawa on Sunday, with meteorologists warning it could bring record rain and wind to the southern region and waves of up to 13 metres (43 feet).

Typhoon Bolaven, packing winds of up to 252 kilometres (157 miles) per hour, was some 90 kilometres east of Okinawa's capital Naha, slowly moving north-northwest, the Japan Meteorological Agency said.

"As the typhoon is moving slowly, violent winds are expected to continue for many hours on the Okinawa main island," the agency said, also warning of 13-metre waves through Monday.

The atmospheric pressure of the typhoon indicated it was one of the strongest since the weather agency started taking records about 60 years ago, local media said.

Residents of Naha city were being advised to stay indoors as public broadcaster NHK showed footage of deserted streets lined with trees felled by strong winds.

Some 300 residents evacuated to municipal offices and other public facilities, NTV reported, fearing that their homes may be submerged in heavy rains.

The traffic system was paralysed, with all flights to and from Naha airport and ships linking the main island with smaller islands being cancelled, the Kyodo news agency said.

Roads and bus services were closed on the island while an elevated rail link in Naha city had also been shut down, Kyodo added.

About 3,000 homes in Okinawa and 16,400 homes in Amami island were hit by a blackout, the news agency reported, citing local utilities.

Four people sustained minor injuries in Okinawa prefecture, including a 91-year-old man who was knocked down by strong wind, Jiji Press said.

The weather agency warned that the typhoon was expected to come closest to the main Okinawa island Sunday night and pass through while maintaining its strength.

As much as 500 millimetres (about 20 inches) of rain was expected over 24 hours to noon on Monday in Okinawa, the agency said.

The typhoon is expected to move north up the East China Sea on Monday, closing in on South Korea's southern island of Jeju by late in the day, the Japanese weather agency said.

Chinese state media reported that Bolaven would bring gales and heavy rain to China's northeastern coast of Zhejiang as it headed towards Jeju.

Downpours were expected in the Shandong Peninsula with winds of 150 kph, Xinhua reported.

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