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'Khanun' lashes Okinawa, halts flights, closes stores

TOKYO, August 2 ------ Typhoon "Khanun" was approaching Japan's southwestern island of Okinawa, lashing the region with strong winds and high waves, and forcing transportation to halt and businesses to close.

The slow-moving Khanun, which means "jackfruit" in Thai, was heading northwest at speeds of 20 kilometers per hour (12.4 miles per hour) on Tuesday morning, packing surface winds of up to 162 kph (100 mph). It was at the sea southeast of Okinawa's main island, the Japan Meteorological Agency said.

The city office in the Okinawan prefectural capital of Naha was closed on Tuesday due to violent winds, while supermarket chains were also shut or operating under shorter hours. Footage on public broadcaster Japan Broadcasting Corp., or NHK, showed fallen trees on the street in Naha. No injuries were reported.

Hundreds of flights into and out of Naha's airport, including a more than a dozen international flights connecting Seoul, Hong Kong, Taipei and Shanghai, were canceled, the gateway's authorities said. Public transportation on Okinawa, including buses and light rail transit systems in Naha, and ferries connecting Okinawa and nearby islands, were suspended.

The typhoon will keep moving west and away from the main Japanese archipelago after passing by Okinawa on Tuesday, when it is expected to bring rainstorms and waves as high as 12 meters (39 feet) to the region, the weather agency said. Up to 18 centimeters (7 inches) of rainfall are expected in the region within the next 24 hours, it added. Officials warned residents of violent winds and high waves, as well as flooding, and urged them to stay indoors and away from windows.



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