Japan evacuates major airport after typhoon wreaks havoc

Tokyo, Sep 5 (Agencies) | Publish Date: 9/5/2018 12:03:39 PM IST

Japan scrambled Wednesday to evacuate passengers trapped at a major airport when a tanker slammed into its only access bridge during the most powerful typhoon to hit the country for 25 years, AFP reported.

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

Winds up to 216 kilometres per hour ripped off roofs, overturned trucks and swept a 2,500-ton tanker into a bridge leading to Kansai International Airport, the region’s main international gateway and a national transport hub.

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

On Wednesday boats 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 transport ministry official told AFP.

Airport spokeswoman Yurino Sanada told AFP: “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.” 

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

Rescued passengers spoke of their discomfort in sweltering post-typhoon temperatures of around 30 degrees Celsius (86 Fahrenheit) on Wednesday.

“We had a blackout so there was no air conditioning. It was hot,” a woman told public broadcaster NHK after being ferried to Kobe. 

“I’d never expected this amount of damage from a typhoon.” “I couldn’t sleep, but I’m relieved because I thought I might not be able to get out,” another woman told the station.

Typhoon Jebi made landfall at midday on Tuesday and moved quickly over the mainland, smashing through the major manufacturing area around Osaka -- Japan’s second city -- wrecking infrastructure and destroying homes.

Government spokesman Yoshihide Suga said 11 people had been killed and 470 injured. According to Kansai Electric, more than 400,000 households were still without power.

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