Powerful typhoon leaves at least 11 dead in Japan, damages major airport
Hundreds injured as storm knocks out power to more than 400,000 households
One of Japan's busiest airports remained closed indefinitely after the strongest typhoon to hit Japan in at least 25 years flooded a runway and other facilities while damaging other infrastructure and causing at least 11 deaths as it swept across part of Japan's main island.
Japan has long had a reputation for transportation that runs like clockwork. But even that couldn't hold up to the fury of Typhoon Jebi, whose 160 km/h winds destroyed buildings, cut off power to more than 400,000 households and left 11 people dead and 470 injured.
Kansai International Airport officials said Wednesday they weren't sure when the airport will reopen. Although a damaged runway had been mostly cleared, other equipment to ensure safe flying wasn't operating.
The airport is built on two artificial islands in Osaka Bay, and the high seas flooded one of the runways, cargo storage and other facilities, said the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism. One passenger was slightly injured by shards from a window shattered by the storm.
The closure typhoon is raising worries about the impact on tourist traffic, mostly from China and Southeast Asia, as well as on exporting computer chips and other goods. About 3,000 passengers stranded at the airport overnight were given blankets and biscuits until they gradually left by boats and buses.
Hideko Senoo, a 51-year-old homemaker who was planning a family trip to India, said the terminal was hot and dark after losing power, and she could not even buy drinks at vending machines after food at convenience stores were all sold out. "We could not use vending machines or access to wireless local network to get information, and we didn't even know about this boat service," she told Kyodo News.
Another passenger, Miki Yamada, a 25-year-old office worker planning a trip to Thailand with her friend, said she spent the night at an airport cafeteria, Kyodo said. "It was a rather scary night, as we were so isolated."
Several people die from falls
Elsewhere, a tanker that became unmoored by the typhoon's pounding waves and wind slammed into a bridge linking offshore Kansai International Airport to the mainland, damaging the bridge and the ship and stranded 3,000 passengers overnight at the airport. Under sunny skies Wednesday morning, they left by boat or were transported by buses across an intact road on the damaged bridge.
Factories in the region, including automaker Daihatsu Motor Co. and electronics giant Panasonic, as well as major beverage maker Kirin Co. suspended production at most of its factories in Osaka and nearby prefectures on Tuesday, though most of them were expected to resume operation Wednesday, Kyodo News agency reported.
The Universal Studios Japan theme park in Osaka closed for a second day Wednesday but said in a news release it would reopen Thursday.
The deaths included a man in his 70s who was blown to the ground from his apartment in Osaka prefecture. Police said five others died elsewhere in the prefecture after being hit by flying objects or falling from their apartments. In nearby Shiga prefecture, a 71-year-old man died when a storage building collapsed on him, and a man in his 70s died after falling from a roof in Mie, officials said.
In nearby Nishinomiya in Hyogo prefecture, about 100 cars at a seaside dealership burned after their electrical systems were shorted out by sea water, fire officials and news reports said.