Japan evacuates major airport after typhoon wreaks havoc

Japan evacuates major airport after typhoon havoc

Kansai International Airport was partially flooded by Typhoon Jebi in Osaka, western Japan, Wednesday.

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

A major Japanese airport flooded by a typhoon is expected to partially reopen Friday after officials promised round-the-clock work to fix damage and make the travel hub ready for passengers.

The flights to be cancelled are TG672 from Suvarnabhumi airport at 8.25am, TG673 from Kansai at 5.35pm, TG622 from Suvarnabhumi at 11.30pm, TG623 from Kansai at 11.45am.

Kansai airport is the gateway to the Osaka region and lags behind only the Haneda and Narita facilities that serve Tokyo. "Right now, we cannot say for certain when we can reopen", said Hiroshi Nishio, an executive at the Kansai Airport. Around 16,000 people spent the night in shelters, local media said.

Adding to the damage was a tanker that slammed into the side of a bridge connecting the airport, built on landfills, to the mainland, further crippling transport.

Jebi, the most powerful typhoon to hit Japan in 25 years, brought heavy rain and strong wind across the Kinki and Shikoku regions of western Japan and the Tokai and Hokuriku central regions, leaving thousands of people trapped at Kansai International Airport.

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The Kansai airport served 28 million passengers previous year.

Kansai airport is critical for business as well, exporting 5.6 trillion yen ($50 billion) worth of goods, mostly computer chips, electronics parts and other machinery, primarily to Asian destinations, such as China and South Korea, but also to the US and Europe, according to Osaka Customs.

It's typhoon season in Japan, and Nintendo's Kyoto-based headquarters were in the direct line of fire.

"We hope the tourists, who have been inconvenienced (by the typhoon earlier this week), will be better able to enjoy Osaka", said Hiroshi Mizobata, head of the bureau, during a news conference.

Hideko Senoo, a 51-year-old homemaker planning a family trip to India, said the terminal was hot and dark after losing power, and food at convenience stores was sold out. "It was a rather scary night, as we were so isolated", she said. Police in Osaka reported five more deaths in the prefecture, some due to flying objects, and others due to falling from apartments.

Earlier this year torrential rains lashed the west of the country, sparking flooding that killed more than 200 people as it laid waste to villages and caused hillsides to collapse.

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