U.S. airman dead, 2 missing as Typhoon Phanfone slams Japan

Posted at 4:28 PM, Oct 05, 2014
and last updated 2014-10-05 16:28:10-04

(CNN) — One of the three U.S. airmen washed away to sea Sunday from their station post at Kadena Air Base in Japan has died.

The U.S. Air Force said the airman was pulled from the sea by the Japanese coast guard and pronounced dead at a local hospital.

The incident occurred at 3:45 p.m. Sunday as a strong typhoon bore down on the U.S. military base on the coast of Okinawa.

The other two remain missing, and “rough seas are complicating rescue efforts,” according to the base, which said it is jointly conducting the search with Japan’s coast guard.

All three names are being withheld until the Air Force can notify next of kin.

Typhoon Phanfone churned close to Japan’s southern tip on Sunday afternoon with sustained winds as powerful as 167 kph (104 mph). It began to turn to the northeast and is expected to hug the country’s southeastern coastline over the following hours.

“We’re talking torrential rain and also significant wind,” said Ivan Cabrera, a meteorologist with CNN International.

Phanfone is forecast to weaken before it nears Tokyo early Monday, according to the U.S. government’s Joint Typhoon Warning Center.

The storm could make landfall on a peninsula south of the city of Osaka and again farther east, near the city of Hamamatsu.

NASA’s Earth Observatory tweeted a photo Saturday showing the large typhoon’s bands swirling out from its center.

Click here for the rest of the story from CNN.