A powerful typhoon pummeled southern Japan (search) on Sunday, killing at least three people as it headed north toward the country's more densely populated islands.

Classified as "large and very powerful," Typhoon Dianmu (search) was packing sustained winds of nearly 60 mph, with some gusts reaching 100 mph, Japan's Meteorological Agency said.

Dianmu — Mandarin Chinese for "Mother of Lightning" — was centered about 800 miles southwest of Tokyo and traveling north. Forecasters said it could hit Japan's southernmost main island of Kyushu (search) by Sunday evening.

The agency predicted up to 16 inches of rain in parts of Kyushu.

The typhoon raked Okinawa's main island Saturday and stormy weather continued to disrupt dozens of flights and some ferry services in the area Sunday. The Meteorological Agency recorded waves of up to 39 feet.

Two of the dead were college students apparently swept away by rough seas while barbecuing on the beach Saturday in Shizuoka, 95 miles west of Tokyo. Their bodies were found washed ashore Sunday.

A 32-year-old windsurfer died Saturday in high waves off southern Okinawa island, coast guard officials said.

A 73-year-old Tokyo resident remained missing after he went fishing Friday near Kozu island about 75 miles south of Tokyo. Officials feared he may have gotten lost in high waves.