5 Sep 2018

Typhoon kills 10 in Japan, airport passengers stranded

7:25 pm on 5 September 2018

A powerful typhoon killed 10 people in Japan and an airport company transferred some 3000 stranded passengers by boats from a flooded airport, the Japanese government says.

More than two million households experienced blackouts during the storm and schools and companies in the affected area remained shut as typhoon Jebi hit the country.

Jebi, or "swallow" in Korean, was briefly a super typhoon and is the most powerful storm to hit Japan in 25 years.

More than 30,000 people were given stronger but still not mandatory evacuation orders, the Fire and Disaster Management Agency said.

As the winds slow down and move north, people are being urged to stay alert for landslides and floods.

It follows heavy rains, landslides, floods and record-breaking heat that killed hundreds of people this summer.

Nearly 800 flights were cancelled, including international flights at Nagoya and Osaka.

About 3000 tourists stayed overnight at Kansai Airport, an important hub for Japanese companies to export semiconductors.

Television footage showed people lining up to buy food and drinks at a convenience store in the airport.

Airport officials began transferring the stranded passengers to nearby Kobe airport by high-speed boats and buses, the government said.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said about 300 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.

"The government will continue to do everything possible to tackle these issues with utmost urgency," Mr Suga said.

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

Footage on social media showed the 100m-tall ferris wheel in Osaka spinning rapidly in the storm despite being switched off.

Japan's JXTG Nippon Oil & Energy Corp shut at least one of the refining units at Sakai refinery in Osaka due to typhoon damage to part of the cooling tower, the trade ministry said.

Toshiba Memory, the world's second-largest maker of flash memory chips, was monitoring developments closely and may need to ship products from other airports if Kansai remains closed, a spokeswoman said.

She said the company was not expecting a major impact because its plant in central Japan had not been affected by the typhoon.

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

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

-Reuters / BBC