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Typhoon Phanfone Washes U.S. Airmen Out to Sea; One Dead, Two Missing

6 Oct 2014, 12:48 pm


Tropical Storm Phanfone, once a powerful super-typhoon, is being blamed for sweeping four U.S. military personnel out to sea. One of the Airman was able to swim back to shore, but the other three were taken out by the powerful surf.

And according to CNN, the Airmen were out taking pictures of the huge waves when they were pull into the water.

According to a press release from Kadena, the Japanese Coast Guard and rescue crews from the airbase were working in tandem to find the persons swept out to sea. Thus far, authorities have have pulled one service member out of the water and them rushed to a local hospital. The Airman was later pronounced dead.

In a post on the base’s Facebook page, the search was being hampered by adverse weather conditions and high seas. The search for the missing service personnel has been suspended until sunrise on Oct. 7.

Col. Thomas Torkelson, 18th Wing vice commander, released a statement that read in part, “This event touches every member of the Air Force family — the search for our missing brothers-in-arms will continue.”

The names of the airman have not yet been released, pending notification of next of kin.

The Airmen were stationed at Robins Air Force Base, in central Georgia, and were on temporary duty at Kadena.

Phanfone Hammers Japan

Kadena is located on Japanese Island of Okinawa, which was lashed by Phanfone late last week. The typhoon brought strong winds, heavy rains and very high surf to parts of the Japanese Archipelago.

Over the weekend and through the first part of the week, Phanfone weakened significantly but not before buffeting the Japanese mainland with heavy rains and gusty winds. The influx of bad weather forced the evacuation of thousands of people as flooding and mudslide potential went up.

The bad weather also caused enormous travel headaches on the island nation as well. Train service was disrupted and hundreds of flights were cancelled or delayed out of Tokyo’s two main airports — Haneda and Narita. Transportation was returned to normal as of Monday afternoon.

Meteorologist Alan Raymond

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