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Monday, July 7, 2014, 15:44

China on orange alert as super typhoon takes aim at Japan

By Agencies

 China on orange alert as super typhoon takes aim at Japan

TOKYO/BEIJING - A super typhoon described as a "once in decades storm" was heading north for Japan on Monday, set to rake the southern Okinawa island chain with heavy rain and powerful winds before making landfall on Kyushu, Japan's westernmost main island.

China's National Marine Environmental Forecasting Center (NMEFC) on Monday issued an orange alert for high seas likely to be generated by Typhoon Neoguri within the next 24 hours.

Typhoon Neoguri, the eighth typhoon of this year, is expected to arrive in the southeastern part of the East China Sea on Tuesday morning.

The NMEFC said the typhoon could whip up peaks of up to 13 meters in the southeast of the East China Sea from noon on Monday to noon on Tuesday, while waves of up to seven meters may be seen in waters off China's Diaoyu Islands.

It also asked ships and coastal areas to take precautionary measures in advance.

China has a four-tier color-coded weather warning system, with red representing the most severe warning, followed by orange, yellow and blue.

Neoguri means "raccoon dog." The typhoon was named by the Republic of Korea.

Typhoon Neoguri was already gusting at more than 250 km an hour and may pick up still more power as it moves north, growing into an "extremely intense" storm by Tuesday, the Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA) said.

But it was not expected to be as strong as Typhoon Haiyan, which killed thousands in the Philippines last year.

The storm was south of Okinawa but moving northwest at 20 kph with sustained winds of 180 kph, the JMA said on its website, warning of high tides and lashing rain.

"This storm's characteristic is its strength," one JMA official said, calling on people in Okinawa to evacuate early and take precautions, including staying indoors. Television showed fishermen winching their boats out of the water.

There are no nuclear plants on Okinawa, but there are two on Kyushu and one on Shikoku island, which borders Kyushu and could also be affected.

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