Thu, Sep 06, 2018 - Page 1 News List

Typhoon strands travelers, kills 11


A wall of the Minami Noh Butai at Nishi Honganji Temple, a world heritage site, that was blown over by Typhoon Jebi is pictured yesterday in Kyoto, Japan.

Photo: AP

Japan yesterday scrambled to evacuate passengers trapped at Kansai International Airport after a tanker slammed into its only access bridge during the most powerful typhoon to hit the nation in 25 years.

Typhoon Jebi left a trail of destruction, killing 11 people and injuring hundreds more as it battered western Japan with ferocious winds and rain.

Winds up to 216kph ripped off roofs, overturned trucks and swept a tanker into a bridge leading to the airport.

The damage to the bridge left the artificial island housing the airport temporarily cut off, stranding 3,000 travelers and staff overnight as high waves flooded the runways and some buildings, knocking out power.

Boats yesterday began ferrying people out of the airport and buses began to run on one side of the damaged bridge after safety inspections.

“There were about 3,000 people stranded at the airport, but we think about 2,000 to 2,500 of them already got out. We think there are not many people left,” a Japanese transport ministry official said.

“We don’t know how many hours we need to bring everyone out, but we’re doing our best to finish it by the end of today,” airport spokeswoman Yurino Sanada said.

There was no indication when the airport, which operates more than 400 flights a day, might reopen, but Kyodo News said it could take up to a week.

Rescued passengers spoke of their discomfort in sweltering post-typhoon temperatures of about 30°C.

“We had a blackout so there was no air conditioning. It was hot,” a woman told Japan Broadcasting Corp after being ferried to Kobe. “I’d never expected this amount of damage from a typhoon.”

Jebi made landfall on Tuesday and moved quickly over the mainland, smashing through a major manufacturing area around Osaka.

Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said that 11 people had been killed and 470 injured.

More than 400,000 households were still without power, Kansai Electric said.

In Kyoto, the typhoon brought down part of the ceiling of the main railway station, while in Osaka, high winds peeled scaffolding from a multistory building.

Pictures showed containers piled up and vehicles thrown together, with others overturned.

Economists said it was too early to gauge the storm’s impact on local industry, with much depending on how long the airport remains closed.

About 10 percent of Japan’s exports leave from the Kansai airport, Mizuho Research Institute senior economist Yusuke Ichikawa said.

“Logistics could be affected as it may take time for Kansai airport to restart operations,” he said.

However, with other airports and ports nearby, companies might be able to reroute shipments to minimize disruption, he added.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Twitter said that the government was battling to get the airport back online.

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