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Vongfong Weakens; Dozens Injured, Evacuations Advised After High Winds, Rain Lash Okinawa


As of 11 p.m. EDT on Saturday, Vongfong was downgraded to a tropical storm. 
Just days after Typhoon Phanfone left three American servicemen dead on Japan's Okinawa Island, Typhoon Vongfong battered its shores once again with ferocious winds and drenching rain before weakening overnight on Sunday local time. At least 31 people were injured in the storm, according to Japanese News Network NHK. 
About 50,000 American troops are stationed in Japan, and nearly half of them are on Okinawa at Kadena Air Base, the Associated Press reports. 
NHK reported that 53,000 households in Okinawa and more than 50,000 in Kagoshima were experiencing blackouts as of Sunday morning. Authorities also advised the evacuation of 90,000 households in Okinawa and 2,700 in Kagoshima Prefecture due to the possibility of flooding and mudslides. 
On Saturday, huge waves lashed the shores of Okinawa as the initial rain bands of the storm moved ashore. A man in his twenties had his fingers severed when high winds slammed a door shut. Several elderly people In Okinawa City and Uruma sustained injuries in falls, according to the Okinawa Times. More injuries were reported in Ginowan, Yomitanson and Yaese-cho. 
Officials at Kadena Air Base raised the Tropical Cyclone Condition of Readiness, or TCCOR, to level 1. All non-emergency personnel will remain inside until the storm has passed, according to a post on the air base's Facebook page.
According to Stars and Stripes, servicemen and women at Kadena Air Base were told to discontinue all outdoor activities with Vongfong nearby. Many base facilities have closed to hunker down for the storm, the report added.
Areas of Japan have received massive amounts of rainfall in past months, and the slow, plodding nature of Vongfong could raise the risk of deadly landslides and flooding yet again, Reuters added.
Preparations took a serious tone after last week's tragedy on the base. Three airmen were killed by the raging seas off the coast of Okinawa in the wake of Typhoon Phanfone. The bodies of all three men have been recovered.

Japan's Ryukyu Islands, including Okinawa, were still getting hammered by heavy winds before the storm's eye passed over. At least 22 people were injured late Saturday night (Saturday morning ET) by winds that reached 100 miles per hour in areas over Okinawa, according to Stars and Stripes. About 25,000 American troops are at Okinawa's Kadena Air Base, which raised its tropical cyclone readiness to a level 1 — meaning all service members should stay inside, according to a post on the base's Facebook page. Three American servicemen were killed in Okinawa Sunday when they were washed away while taking photos during Typhoon Phanfone, which made landfall as a Category 1.
The eye of Vongfong was 40 miles southeast of Okinawa, moving north-northwest at 10 mph at 11 a.m. ET Saturday, according to the U.S. military's Joint Typhoon Warning Center. When the storm passes over Okinawa, it is expected to bring relentless winds and rain, and likely produce flash flooding and mudslides in an area already over-saturated by Phanfone, according to Weather.com. Winds are expected to surpass 125 mph — the strongest measured at Kadena Air Base since 2009, Weather.com reported.

US Air Force Base in Super Typhoon's Path


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