Typhoon bearing down on US bases; 3 Okinawa airmen washed out to sea
YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan — U.S. bases in the Tokyo area were bracing Sunday night for a strong typhoon that was bearing down on the Japanese capital.
Three airmen from Kadena Air Base were washed out to sea on the northwest coast of Okinawa, according to an Air Force statement. One was recovered and pronounced dead, and the others were still missing.
The Japanese Coast Guard and two HH-60 helicopters from the 18th Wing at Kadena were searching for them, but rough seas were hampering the efforts.
Barring a last-minute swerve in its path, Typhoon Phanfone was expected to hit hardest at Yokosuka Naval Base, with forecasts of 58- to 63-mph sustained winds and 98-mph gusts around 10 a.m. Monday as the fast-moving storm sweeps through.
The base shut down Sunday in preparation, as did other U.S. facilities, including Yokota Air Base to the northwest, where sustained winds of up to 40 mph were forecast.
Schools and offices at bases on the Kanto plains were ordered closed Monday, with only essential personnel allowed out until officials give an all-clear advisory.
The area was drenched by steady winds most of the day Sunday, and another three to five inches of precipitation were expected Monday.