Two dead as strongest typhoon in quarter century batters Japan

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TOKYO, Sept 4, 2018 (BSS/AFP) – The strongest typhoon to hit Japan in 25
years battered the west of the country Tuesday with violent winds and heavy
rain, killing six and injuring scores more.

Powerful gusts ripped sheeting from rooftops, overturned trucks on bridges
and swept a tanker anchored in Osaka Bay into a bridge to Kansai
International Airport.

The damage to the bridge left the airport cut off from the mainland and
stranded around 3,000 people there, an official told AFP.

The airport was now conducting safety tests on the undamaged section of the
bridge, the official said, but it remained unclear when the passengers could
leave.

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.

Typhoon Jebi made landfall around noon, slamming into the west of the
country with winds of up to 216 kilometres (135 miles) per hour.

The fast-moving storm quickly crossed the mainland, and by nightfall was
heading out to sea from Ishikawa in central Japan.

Public broadcaster NHK reported at least six deaths in the storm, including
a 71-year-old man killed in western Shiga prefecture after being trapped
under a warehouse that collapsed in strong wind.

NHK said 164 people had suffered mostly minor injuries.

In Osaka television footage showed the large tanker smashing into the
bridge connecting the city of Izumisano with Kansai airport, with its
superstructure battering away part of the bridge.

Local TV also showed footage of a 100-metre (328-feet) tall ferris wheel in
Osaka spinning furiously in the strong wind despite being switched off.

“I’ve never seen such a thing,” a 19-year-old boy at the scene told NHK.

Elsewhere, the winds whipped away part of the ceiling from Kyoto station
and peeled off multi-storey scaffolding on a building in Osaka.

– Evacuations urged –

The storm left more than one million households without power and
evacuation advisories were issued at one point for nearly 1.2 million people,
with another 16,000 under stronger — though still not mandatory —
evacuation orders.

 

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe had urged people to evacuate early and ordered
his government to take all necessary measures to protect residents, after the
weather agency warned of landslides, flooding and violent winds, as well as
high tides, lightning and tornadoes.

“I urge the Japanese people to take action to protect your lives, including
preparing and evacuating early,” he said.

Arriving on land, Jebi had winds of up to 162 kilometres (100 miles) per
hour at its centre, making it a “very strong” typhoon, the weather agency’s
chief forecaster Ryuta Kurora told AFP.

“This is (the strongest) since 1993.”

Local media warned that the wind was strong enough to topple traditional-
style wooden houses as well as power poles, and urged people in affected
areas to avoid non-essential travel.

Primary and middle schools in the storm’s path were closed while regional
businesses including Universal Studios Japan in Osaka and factories for
several large manufacturers shut down.

Nearly 800 flights were cancelled, including several international flights
departing and arriving at Nagoya and Osaka, along with ferries, local train
services and some bullet train lines.

Jebi had a similar trajectory to Typhoon Cimaron which made landfall on
August 23, disrupting transport but causing limited damage and few injuries.

Japan is regularly struck by major storms during the summer and autumn.

The country has been sweating through a record deadly heatwave that
followed devastating rain in parts of central and western Japan that killed
over 200 people.

The sustained rain caused widespread flooding and landslides in July,
devastating entire villages and forcing thousands from their homes.

The flooding and landslides proved so deadly in part because many people
did not heed evacuation warnings, which are not mandatory.

Since the disaster, authorities have urged people to take the warnings more
seriously and prepare to leave home immediately they are issued.

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