Flights cancelled as typhoon nears Japan's Okinawa

Flights cancelled as typhoon nears Japan's Okinawa

TOKYO - Powerful Typhoon Fitow is expected to hit Japan's southern island chain of Okinawa on Saturday, with domestic and international flights to and from the islands cancelled, officials said.

Japan, Taiwan and China are bracing for the storm, with Japan's meteorological agency warning of strong winds and heavy rains, as well as the risk of tornados, just two weeks after Typhoon Usagi wreaked havoc in the region.

At 10 am (0100 GMT), Typhoon Fitow was moving slowly northwest, about 200 kilometres (124 miles) south of Naha, the capital of Okinawa, the agency said.

Japan Airlines, All Nippon Airways and its low-cost carrier Peach Aviation said Saturday that flights to and from Naha had been cancelled because the approach of the typhoon.

Hong Kong's Dragonair also said its Okinawa flights had been cancelled.

The typhoon, named after a flower in Micronesia, is expected to approach Taiwan on Sunday.

Taiwan issued a warning, with the storm predicted to move past the north of the island.

The Central Weather Bureau in Taiwan said the typhoon had been upgraded from a tropical storm as it gathered momentum, packing gusts of 137 kilometres per hour.

"Fitow is maintaining its strength and will bring heavy rains to northern and northeastern Taiwan, especially Taipei and New Taipei cities. Its impact is expected to be at the strongest on Sunday morning," the bureau said.

China has also issued a warning over the typhoon, which is set to hit the country's southeast coastlines late Sunday.

The National Meteorological Centre gave an orange warning -- the second-highest in a four-tier system -- saying the storm would make landfall in the provinces of Zhejiang and Fujian on Sunday, state news agency Xinhua reported.

Typhoon Usagi left 25 dead last month when it crashed into southern China, throwing the region's transport systems into chaos and leaving tens of thousands of airline passengers stranded in Hong Kong.

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