Two U.S. airmen and a Japanese surfer remained missing Monday after a powerful typhoon swept past the southern part of the country.
The two airmen were among four who were washed out to sea as a group of them took photos of big waves on a beach on the island of Okinawa on Sunday afternoon, according to the Japanese Coast Guard.
One airman managed to make it back to the beach, but another was found in the water and confirmed dead later Sunday, the coast guard said.
The search for the two missing men was hampered by rough seas, said Kadena Air Base, the U.S. military installation where they were serving.
All three names are being withheld until the Air Force can notify next of kin.
Surfer goes missing near Tokyo
The seas were churned up by Typhoon Phanfone, which made landfall in central Japan early Monday. It packed sustained winds as strong as 130 kph (81 mph) when it hit land near the city of Hamamatsu, after having moved up the country’s southeastern coastline.
A 21-year-old university student went missing at lunchtime Sunday while surfing off the coast of Fujisawa, a beach suburb of Tokyo, the coast guard said.
Unleashing fierce winds and torrential rain, the typhoon brought widespread disruption to Tokyo and other areas near its path. Thirty-nine people have been injured, authorities said.
Hundreds of flights canceled
More than 1.2 million people throughout a wide area of central and eastern Japan have been advised to evacuate to shelters, Japanese fire and rescue officials said Monday. More than 7,000 others have been ordered to relocate.
Air transport was paralyzed, with more than 400 domestic flights canceled, affecting more than 50,000 people. Bullet trains between Tokyo and Osaka, Japan’s second biggest city, were also disrupted.
Elementary and junior high schools in large areas of central Japan were closed to avoid the heavy rain and strong winds.
The storm had moved out into the Pacific Ocean by Monday afternoon, and meteorologists said conditions should improve by nightfall.
Risk of mudslides
But the typhoon left behind the danger of mudslides and flooding in mountainous areas.
Officials have expressed particular concern about the situation at Mount Ontake, a volcano that suddenly erupted last weekend, killing dozens of hikers.
The typhoon has caused search efforts to be suspended for about a dozen people who remain missing on the volcano, the Japanese news agency Kyodo reported.
The high accumulation of volcanic ash on the mountain, combined with the forecast of heavy rain, increases the danger of mudslides.