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

By Jethro Mullen and Josh Levs, CNN
updated 8:55 PM EDT, Sun October 12, 2014
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: Storm makes landfall, but should pass quickly
  • One of three airmen washed out to sea dies
  • It has also disrupted a search for hikers missing on a volcano that erupted recently

(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 made landfall in Shizuoka Prefecture around 8 a.m. Monday local time, packing wind gusts as high as 164 kph (101 mph) along the coast.

The worst conditions were moving into Tokyo Monday morning, with the center of the storm forecast to hit the capital at around noon.

The rain will end quickly after that, CNN Meteorologist Taylor Ward said. The heaviest rain and strongest winds have been along the coast, he said.

Some parts of Japan have recorded more than 400 mm of rain (16 inches), and Tokyo is likely to see more than 300 mm (12 inches).

The storm is passing quickly, however, and the conditions will improve by nightfall, Ward said.

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

Officials have expressed particular concern about the situation at Mount Ontake, a volcano that suddenly erupted last weekend, killing dozens of hikers.

The typhoon has caused search efforts to be suspended for about a dozen people who remain missing on the volcano, the Japanese news agency Kyodo reported.

The high accumulation of volcanic ash on the mountain, combined with the forecast of heavy rain, increases the danger of mudslides.

CNN's Kevin Conlon and Brandon Miller contributed to this report.

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