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Powerful typhoon Bolaven hits Japan's Okinawa Island

Residents of Naha are being evacuated as Typhoon Bolaven brings strong winds and heavy rain.

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Forecasters are predicting Sunday's Typhoon Bolaven could be the strongest storm to hit the island in more than 50 years. It's 1,250 mile cloud field is 20 times larger than than Okinawa's length. (NASA Goddard MODIS Rapid Response Team/Courtesy)

Residents on Japan's Okinawa island are taking cover in public halls and offices as Typhoon Bolaven brings strong winds and heavy rain. 

Forecasters are predicting Sunday's typhoon could be the strongest to hit the island in more than 50 years, reports the Australian News Network.  

The Japan Meteorological Agency said the storm could bring winds of up to 155 miles per hour and is moving north-northwest, reports Australia's Herald Sun

"As the typhoon is moving slowly, violent winds are expected to continue for many hours on the Okinawa main island," the agency told the newspaper. The agency warned the island could see 40-foot waves continuing through to Monday.

Residents of Naha city were told to stay indoors as the traffic system was down and all flights to and from Naha airport, as well as ships linking the main island to smaller islands are cancelled, reported the Kyodo news agency.

British tourist Paul Graham, whose flight out of Okinawa has been cancelled, told the BBC that the streets in Naha were deserted.

"It is quite stormy at the moment, very windy and very wet. There is a canal nearby here, and there is concern about its levels in this weather," he said.

CNN's International meteorologist Tom Sater said Bolaven will likely be the strongest storm to hit the island since 1956. The storm's 1,250 mile cloud field is 20 times larger than than Okinawa's length.

Storm chaser James Reynolds told CNN that the infrastructure on Okinawa is designed to withstand storms of this strength.

"Everything's made of solid concrete," he said. "Utility poles are so wide you couldn't even put your arms around them...All the houses are built with concrete. There's no such thing as a beach house in Okinawa because it would just get destroyed by a typhoon."

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/asia-pacific/japan/120826/powerful-typhoon-bolaven-hits-japans-okinawa-island