Tuesday 25 September, 2018

Strong typhoon slams west Japan; 2 dead, airport flooded

High waves hit breakwaters at a port of Aki, Kochi prefecture, western Japan, Tuesday Sept. 4, 2018. Powerful Typhoon Jebi is approaching Japan's Pacific coast and forecast to bring heavy rain and high winds to much of the country. (Ichiro Banno/Kyodo News via AP)

High waves hit breakwaters at a port of Aki, Kochi prefecture, western Japan, Tuesday Sept. 4, 2018. Powerful Typhoon Jebi is approaching Japan's Pacific coast and forecast to bring heavy rain and high winds to much of the country. (Ichiro Banno/Kyodo News via AP)

A powerful typhoon slammed into western Japan on Tuesday, causing heavy rain to flood the region's main offshore international airport and strong winds to blow a tanker into a bridge, disrupting land and air travel. The storm left at least two people dead.

Jebi was the strongest typhoon to make landfall in Japan since 1993, according to Japan's Kyodo News service.

The storm was heading north across a swath of Japan's main island of Honshu toward the Sea of Japan. It was off the northern coast of Fukui on Tuesday evening with sustained winds of 126 kilometres per hour (78 miles per hour) and gusts up to 180 kph (110 mph), the Japan Meteorological Agency said.

A man in his 70s died apparently after being blown to the ground from his apartment in Osaka prefecture, while a 71-year-old man died after being buried underneath a storage house that collapsed on him, officials said.

NHK national television said 126 people were injured in the storm.

In the hard-hit city of Osaka, high seas poured into Kansai International Airport, flooding one of its two runways and cargo storage and other facilities, forcing the airport to shut down, said the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism.

More than 700 flights were canceled, according to Japanese media tallies. High-speed bullet train service was suspended from Tokyo west to Hiroshima.

A 2,591-ton tanker that was mooring slammed into the side of a bridge connecting the airport to the mainland, damaging part of the bridge and the vessel. The tanker's 11 crew members were not injured and remained on board, according to Japan's coast guard.

Elsewhere in Osaka, the Universal Studios Japan theme park and U.S. Consulate were both closed. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe canceled a scheduled trip to Kyushu, Japan's southernmost main island, to oversee the government's response to the typhoon, said Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga.

The typhoon first made landfall on Japan's southwestern island of Shikoku and then again near Kobe on Honshu. Television footage showed fallen tree branches and high seas overflowing onto low-lying areas.

Tokyo escaped relatively unscathed, with some intermittent squalls.