Strongest typhoon in 25 years leaves trail of destruction in Japan

Cranes overturned in Nishinomiya, western Japan (AP) Credit: AP/Press Association Images

One of Japan’s busiest airports remains closed indefinitely a day after the strongest typhoon to hit Japan in at least 25 years caused at least 11 deaths as it swept across part of the country’s main island.

Typhoon Jebi flooded a runway at Kansai airport, toppled huge cranes, flipped cars on their side and damaged historic shrines as it arrived with sustained winds of 100mph.

The typhoon cut a path of destruction in and around Osaka and the nearby cities that bore the brunt of the storm.

In Kyoto, the former imperial capital and a popular tourist destination, wooden shrine buildings and entrance gates were knocked down. Trees also fell at a shrine in Nara, another historic city.

More than 400,000 households in western and central Japan remain without power, and electric utilities warned it would take time to bring everyone back online.

Chief cabinet secretary Yoshihide Suga said at least 11 people had been confirmed dead and 470 people were injured.

A tanker slammed into the side of a bridge Credit: Kentaro Ikushima/Mainichi Newspaper/AP

Some 3,000 airline passengers who had to spend the night at the offshore Kansai airport were able to leave on boats and buses under sunny skies. They were stranded after a tanker unmoored by the storm’s pounding waves and wind slammed into a bridge that is the airport’s only link to the mainland.

Officials could not say when the airport, a gateway for Asian tourists visiting Osaka, Kyoto and Kobe, will reopen. The closure of the main airport serving one of Japan’s major business and commercial areas triggered concern about the possible impact on tourism and the economy.

Flooding at the airport had largely subsided on Wednesday but flight operations equipment needed to be assessed for damage, as did the crushed part of the bridge. The airport was built on artificial islands in Osaka Bay.

Kansai International Airport was left under water Credit: Kentaro Ikushima/Mainichi Newspaper via AP

Passengers stranded overnight appeared relieved but exhausted after an uneasy night in the dark.

Miki Yamada, a 25-year-old office worker planning a trip to Thailand with her friend, told the Kyodo news service she spent the night at an airport cafeteria. “It was a rather scary night, as we were so isolated,” she said.

The Universal Studios Japan theme park in Osaka was closed for a second day, but said it would reopen on Thursday.

Factories in the region, including car maker Daihatsu, electronics giant Panasonic and drinks giant Kirin are expected to resume operations on Wednesday after suspending production during the typhoon.

Burned cars in Nishinomiya Credit: Hiroko Harima/Kyodo News/AP

The deaths included a man in his 70s who was blown to the ground from his apartment in Osaka prefecture. Police said at least 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 Nishinomiya in Hyogo prefecture, about 100 cars at a seaside dealership burned after their electrical systems were shorted out by sea water, officials said.