Osaka’s Kansai International Airport (KIX) was one of the casualties as Typhoon Jebi, the strongest to hit Japan in 25 years, pummelling the Osaka and Kobe area with 172 km/h winds before heading north along the Japan’s western coastline leaving a trail of destruction in its wake.
At least seven deaths and 200 injuries have been reported since the storm made landfall on Shikoku, the smallest main island, around noon. It then raked across the western part of the largest main island, Honshu, near the city of Kobe, several hours later, heading rapidly north.
More than 700 flights were cancelled at Kansai Airport, which ultimately saw its runways, taxiways and aprons covered in flood waters from storm surges in Osaka Bay, leaving several planes submerged up to their engines, NHK reported, citing transport ministry officials.
The local police said that travelers stranded at the airport, which sits on a man-made island in Osaka Bay, had been issued emergency water, bread and blankets, and that ferries were expected to start bringing people to safety Wednesday morning.
Much of the airport’s runways remained under water into early Wednesday, though the main terminal buildings were safe, said Takayuki Nomori, an officer with the Kansai Airport police.
The strong winds also sent a 2,591-tonne tanker crashing into the bridge linking the airport to the city of Izumisano on the mainland, prompting the closure of the bridge’s road and rail links. The tanker was empty and none of its crew was injured, the coast guard said.
Jebi has dumped more than 500 millimeters of rain in some areas and is likely to produce between 150 and 300 millimeters of rain in many locations. Jebi comes just weeks after Typhoon Cimaron moved over the same region.
The storm, considered for a brief period as a Super Typhoon, prompted government evacuation orders for more than 49,000 people across southern Japan, with an additional two million people advised to flee, the Fire and Disaster Management Agency said. Tokyo, escaped the centre of the storm but was set for heavy rains and high winds.