Chinese fishermen missing after boat capsizes in Typhoon Bolaven

A Chinese fishing boat fights high waves after taking shelter in a port on Jeju on August 27, 2012, ahead Typhoon Bolaven.

Story highlights

  • Six Chinese fishermen rescued after boats capsize in typhoon
  • Search is on for another 28 fishermen still missing
  • Typhoon's winds in Okinawa not as strong as initially feared, local official says
  • Typhoon Bolaven's cloud field is about 20 times the length of Okinawa

Rescuers searched typhoon-swept waters off South Korea's Jeju Island Tuesday for 28 Chinese fishermen missing in the wake of Typhoon Bolaven, a ferocious storm that headed for the Korean Peninsula after making landfall on Okinawa.

Maritime police on Jeju Island said six people had been rescued but searches were on for the others after two boats capsized early Tuesday as Bolaven raged.

Okinawa, meanwhile, emerged relatively unscathed after the typhoon swept it with maximum sustained winds near its center of 185 kilometers per hour (115 mph), according to the Hong Kong Observatory, which monitors storms in the region.

That wind strength put Bolaven in the "super typhoon" category. And with a cloud field of 2,000 kilometers (1,250 miles), it was 20 times larger than Okinawa's length.

But the island, which is situated in an area of the western Pacific Ocean where typhoons are frequent, avoided the kind of destruction that some other storms have caused in East Asia this summer.

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Five people were injured in Okinawa, the local authorities said, and 549 residents took shelter in public buildings to avoid potential damage to their homes. About 17,500 households lost electricity as the storm damaged power lines.

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Storm chaser James Reynolds was on the northwestern coast of the island during the worst of the typhoon.

"Like the rest of the population we all just kind of holed up in the strong and sturdy buildings which make up Okinawa," he said Monday.

The infrastructure on Okinawa is designed to withstand violent storms. "Everything's made of solid concrete," Reynolds said.

The damage was also limited because Bolaven didn't bring winds as powerful as initially feared, said Morichiyo Ohshiro, an official from the Okinawa Prefecture Disaster Prevention and Crisis Management Division.

North of Okinawa, the Amami Islands suffered a major power outage as a result of the typhoon. According to Kyushu Electric Power Corporation, which provides power to the area, 56,300 households were without power as of Monday morning.

All residents of about 2,540 households on Yoron, one of the islands in the chain, were advised by the local authorities to relocate to nearby public facilities as the storm made its way northward.

President Lee Myung-bak of South Korea on Monday called on government agencies to take measures to minimize damage from the approaching storm, the national news agency Yonhap reported, citing Park Jeong-ha, a spokesman for Lee.

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Typhoon Tembin made landfall in southern Taiwan a few days ago, and was expected to work its way toward Hong Kong. But Bolaven, which is much stronger, has stopped Tembin's movement toward Hong Kong and has been spinning it around.

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"As Typhoon Bolaven moves northward towards the Yellow Sea, it will drag Tembin toward the China coast very near Shanghai," said CNN International meteorologist Tom Sater. "That's an amazing change in direction."

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