Typhoon Bolaven lashes Japan's Okinawa

High waves lash the sea wall in Yonabarucho, Okinawa prefecture (26 August)
Image caption Powerful waves lashed a sea wall in Okinawa prefecture

A powerful typhoon has moved past the Japanese island of Okinawa, causing blackouts and forcing thousands of residents indoors.

Typhoon Bolaven is forecast to be moving towards the Korean Peninsula and is likely to move west of Seoul.

At least four people were injured, but reported wind speeds on Okinawa and nearby Amami were lower than forecast.

About 57,000 people on the islands were left without power, Japanese media reported.

Residents had been told to stay at home and protect themselves against the strong winds and heavy rain.

Forecasters had predicted slow-moving Typhoon Bolaven could be the strongest storm to hit the area in over 50 years.

Public broadcaster NHK said gusts could overturn cars, while waves around the island could reach 12m (40ft).

Japan's meteorological agency estimated wind speeds near the storm's centre at around 180km/h (112 mph), with extremely strong gusts reaching 252 km/h.

But NHK reported early Monday morning that the strongest gusts measured on the islands - on Amami, north of Okinawa - reached just 140km/h, according to the AP news agency.

"The winds weren't as strong as expected. We're glad there's no major damage so far," crisis management official Yoshimitsu Matsusaki was quoted as saying by AP.

The storm was expected to dump up to 350mm (20in) of rain on Okinawa and 250mm on Amami, NHK reported.

All domestic and international flights out of the island's Naha Airport have been cancelled.

Some 200 households are already without electricity, and hundreds of people have taken shelter in public buildings on the island.

Trees 'bending'

Hannah Bryan, who is visiting her sister in Okinawa from Britain, told the BBC that she and several others would try to weather the storm in her sister's house.

"We are planning on putting lots of duvets in the middle of the living room and staying together, away from the windows," she said

"It is really windy at the moment and it is getting stronger and stronger. The trees are bending outside."

British tourist Paul Graham, whose flight out of Okinawa has been cancelled, said 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 told the BBC.

Typhoon Bolaven comes just after Typhoon Temblin, which has caused widespread damage in Taiwan.

The latest typhoon is the 15th destructive storm of the season in East Asia.

More on this story