updated 8/29/2006 9:30:19 AM ET 2006-08-29T13:30:19

The military evacuated 200 people from Wake Island on Monday before the arrival of Typhoon Ioke, the strongest Central Pacific hurricane in more than decade.

Classified as a Category 5 "super typhoon," Ioke is expected to extensively damage the U.S. territory when it hits Wednesday with 155-mph winds, said Jeff Powell, lead forecaster for the National Weather Service in Honolulu.

"This is going to roll up a storm surge that will probably submerge the island and destroy everything that's not made of concrete," Powell said.

The evacuees, mostly American and Thai contractors, were flown to Hickam Air Force Base on the Hawaiian island of Oahu, said Maj. Clare Reed, a spokeswoman for the 15th Airlift Wing.

The contractors work at a civilian base, Reed said. No other permanent residents live on the tiny island, she said.

Ioke had winds of 160 mph and gusts up to 185 mph on Monday, Powell said. The storm was 560 miles southeast of Wake Island and on track for a direct hit, according to the forecast.

Wake Island is 2,300 miles west of Honolulu and 1,510 miles east of Guam. The storm is expected to strike at 8 p.m. EDT on Wednesday, or noon Thursday on the island.

Copyright 2006 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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