Japan begins clean-up after Typhoon Jebi leaves 11 dead

Kansai International Airport in western Japan remained flooded yesterday. Typhoon Jebi was the most powerful storm to hit the country in 25 years, and came after months of heavy rain, landslides, floods and record-breaking heat that killed hundreds o
Kansai International Airport in western Japan remained flooded yesterday. Typhoon Jebi was the most powerful storm to hit the country in 25 years, and came after months of heavy rain, landslides, floods and record-breaking heat that killed hundreds of people this summer. PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE
Vehicles damaged by heavy winds brought on by Typhoon Jebi in Kobe, western Japan. Some roads and train lines in the affected areas remained closed yesterday.
Vehicles damaged by heavy winds brought on by Typhoon Jebi in Kobe, western Japan. Some roads and train lines in the affected areas remained closed yesterday. PHOTO: REUTERS
A wall at the Nishi Honganji temple in Kyoto collapsed during the storm. Winds in many places gusted to the highest ever recorded in Japan.
A wall at the Nishi Honganji temple in Kyoto collapsed during the storm. Winds in many places gusted to the highest ever recorded in Japan. PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE
Stranded passengers queueing for buses yesterday at Kansai International Airport, the third-biggest airport in the country by passenger numbers.
Stranded passengers queueing for buses yesterday at Kansai International Airport, the third-biggest airport in the country by passenger numbers. PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

Many tourists evacuated from flooded airport in major industrial hub, but it is unclear when facility will reopen

TOKYO • Japan began yesterday to clean up after a powerful typhoon killed 11 people, injured hundreds and stranded thousands at a flooded airport, though it was not clear when the airport in an industrial and tourist hub would reopen.

Typhoon Jebi, which means "swallow" in Korean, was briefly a super typhoon and was the most powerful storm to hit Japan in 25 years. It came after months of heavy rain, landslides, floods and record-breaking heat that killed hundreds of people this summer.

About 3,000 tourists were stuck overnight at Kansai International Airport in western Japan. An important hub for companies exporting semiconductors, the airport is built on reclaimed land on a bay near Osaka and is connected to the mainland by a bridge, which was damaged when a tanker slammed into it during the storm.

But by afternoon, many people had been rescued by bus or ferried by ship from the airport, where puddles still stood on the main runway after it was inundated on Tuesday.

"More than anything else, I really want to take a bath," one woman told NHK public television.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said yesterday afternoon that about 470 people were injured. It was uncertain when the airport would reopen, and some roads and train lines in the affected areas were still closed, he said.

  • 3,000

    Estimated number of tourists stuck overnight at Kansai International Airport in western Japan.

But the number of households without power had been roughly halved to 530,000.

"The government will continue to do everything possible to tackle these issues with utmost urgency," Mr Suga had told a news conference earlier.

Japan's JXTG Nippon Oil & Energy Corp shut at least one refining unit at its 135,000 barrels-per-day Sakai refinery in Osaka because of typhoon-inflicted damage to part of the cooling tower, said the Trade Ministry.

Many chip plants operate in the Kansai region. Toshiba Memory, the world's second-largest maker of flash memory chips, was monitoring the developments closely and may need to ship products from other airports if Kansai remains closed, a spokesman said. She added that the company did not expect a major impact as its plant in Yokkaichi in central Japan had not been affected by the typhoon.

It could take several days to a week to reopen Kansai airport depending on the extent of the damage, the Yomiuri Shimbun newspaper quoted an unidentified person in the airline industry as saying.

Opened in 1994, Kansai airport is the third-biggest airport in the country by passenger numbers, after Tokyo's Haneda and Narita.

Winds that in many places gusted to the highest ever recorded in Japan, according to the Japanese Meteorological Agency, left a swathe of damage, with fruit and vegetables, many about to be harvested, especially affected.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who was criticised in July for an initially slow response to the devastating floods that month, posted updates on the rescue efforts at Kansai.

In a series of tweets, Mr Abe hailed the relief operations, and said the government will "come together to make every effort to urgently deal with the disaster and restore infrastructure".

Jebi's course brought it close to parts of western Japan hit by heavy rain and flooding in July that killed more than 200 people, but most of the damage this time appeared to be from the wind.

REUTERS, BLOOMBERG

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 06, 2018, with the headline 'Japan begins clean-up after Typhoon Jebi leaves 11 dead'. Print Edition | Subscribe