Japan braces for ‘very strong’ typhoon

Geraldine Edwards
October 5, 2018

Japan advised more than a million people to evacuate their homes Tuesday and canceled hundreds of flights as the west coast was hit with high winds and heavy rain in what was described as the worst typhoon in 25 years.

If it maintains its current strength of 216 kilometres (135 miles) per hour, Jebi would be the first "very strong" typhoon to make landfall on Japan since 1993, according to the country's weather bureau.

In nearby Shiga prefecture, a 71-year-old man died when a storage unit collapsed on him, and a man in his 70s died after falling from a roof in Mie, officials said.

Overturned cars are seen on street following a powerful typhoon in Osaka, western Japan, Tuesday, Sept. 4, 2018.

About 3,000 people spent the night at Kansai International Airport after a tanker ship hit the bridge connecting the offshore airport and the city of Izumisano, NHK said.

High waves whipped up by the storm also flooded parts of the airport, where all flights were cancelled, and the severe weather caused power outages and travel chaos across much of the country.

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Broadcaster NHK reported one person was in critical condition and 163 people were injured in the storm.

Jebi - whose name means "swallow" in Korean - is the latest harsh weather to hit Japan this summer following deadly rains, landslides, floods and record-breaking heat that killed hundreds of people.

One passenger was slightly injured by shards from a window shattered by the storm.

More than 700 flights were cancelled, along with scores of ferries and trains, NHK said.

The tanker's 11 crew members were not injured and remained on board, according to a regional branch of Japan's coastguard.

The airport served 28 million passengers last year, and that number is expected to grow as Japan opens up to tourism in recent years to keep its economy going.

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Vehicle maker Daihatsu, electronics giant Panasonic and beverage maker Kirin suspended production at factories in Osaka and nearby prefectures on Tuesday, although a lot of them are expected to resume on Wednesday, Kyodo News agency reported.

Major beverage maker Kirin suspended production at its brewery in Kobe, according to Kyodo News agency.

The Universal Studios Japan theme park in Osaka was closed for a second day Wednesday but said it would reopen Thursday. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe had urged people to evacuate early and ordered his government to take all necessary measures to protect residents.

Television footage showed waves pounding the coastline, sheet metal tumbling across a carpark, cars turned on their sides, dozens of used cars on fire at an exhibition area, and a big Ferris wheel spinning around in the strong winds.

Footage released by Japanese media showed Kansai International Airport, on the western coast of Japan, nearly completely underwater after heavy rain brought by Typhoon Jebi hit the artificial island.

Tokyo escaped relatively unscathed, with intermittent squalls.

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