TOKYO: A powerful typhoon was heading toward Tokyo on Sunday after lashing southern Japan, where it killed at least one U.S. airman on Okinawa island and left two others missing, officials said.
Typhoon Phanfone was off the coast of Shikoku in southwestern Japan on Sunday night, packing winds of up to 144 kilometers (90 miles) per hour after hitting the southern regions of Okinawa and Kyushu, Japan's Meteorological Agency said.
Three U.S. Air Force members were washed away by high waves Sunday, with one found dead and the other two still missing, Japan's coast guard said. Tsuguyoshi Miyagi, an official at the coast guard's Okinawa branch, said the airmen were on the island's northern coast.
The U.S. Air Force confirmed that three of its airmen were washed out to sea and that one had died. It said the search for the other two had been interrupted by rough seas.
The names of the three airmen were being withheld pending notification of their relatives, the Air Force said in a statement.
Okinawa is home to about half of the roughly 50,000 American troops stationed in Japan.
Several people on Kyushu island were injured in the typhoon. The storm also grounded more than 100 flights Sunday and caused power outages at more than 9,500 homes on Kyushu.
In Suzuka, in central Japan, a French driver was severely injured following an accident in the Japanese Grand Prix which had to be shortened due to the heavy rain because conditions were deemed too dangerous. Formula One driver Jules Bianchi of the Marussia team went off the track at a turn and hit a recovery vehicle that was removing a car that had crashed earlier. An unconscious Bianchi was taken to a nearby hospital where he underwent emergency surgery for a severe head injury, and race officials said he was in critical condition.
The storm triggered concerns of possible landslides on the ash-covered volcano in central Japan that erupted Sept. 27, killing at least 51 hikers. The search for a dozen people missing in the eruption was suspended Sunday due to rain from the approaching storm.
The meteorological agency was predicting up to 40 centimeters (16 inches) of rain in central Japan by Monday morning.