TOKYO: Japan issued evacuation advisories for more than 1 million people and canceled hundreds of flights in the face of extremely strong winds and heavy rain as typhoon Jebi made landfall along its west central coast on Tuesday.
Jebi – whose name means “swallow” in Korean – was briefly a super typhoon and is the latest harsh weather to hit Japan this summer following rains, landslides, floods and record-breaking heat that killed hundreds of people. There were scattered reports of mild injuries as the typhoon made landfall.
Tides in some areas were the highest since a typhoon in 1961, NHK public television said, with flooding covering the runways at Kansai International Airport in Osaka.
The strong winds sent a 2,591-tonne tanker crashing into a bridge connecting Kansai airport, which is built on a man-made island in a bay, to the mainland. The bridge was damaged but the tanker was empty and none of its crew was injured, the coast guard said.
The storm made landfall on Shikoku, the smallest main island, around noon. It raked across the western part of the largest main island, Honshu, near the city of Kobe, several hours later, heading rapidly north.
Evacuation advisories were issued for more than 1 million people as the wind and rain began picking up, the Fire and Disaster Management Agency said. Wind gusts of up to 208 km/h (129 mph) were recorded in one part of Shikoku, with forecasts for gusts as high as 216 km/h (135 mph).
“Our house is right at the base of a mountain, so it’s a little dangerous and we decided to leave,” one woman told NHK.
Television footage showed waves pounding the coastline, sheet metal tumbling across a parking lot and a truck turned on its side. People in Kobe reported on Twitter that the wind was shaking their apartment buildings and ripping branches off trees.
Around 100 mm (3.9 inches) of rain drenched one part of the tourist city of Kyoto in an hour, with as much as 500 mm (20 inches) set to fall in some areas in the 24 hours to noon on Wednesday.
Video posted on Twitter showed a small part of the roof of Kyoto train station falling to the ground.
More than 700 flights were canceled, along with scores of ferries and trains, NHK said. Shinkansen bullet train services between Tokyo and Hiroshima were suspended and Universal Studios Japan, a popular amusement park near Osaka, was closed.
Some 177,000 customers across western Japan lost power, the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry said. Toyota Motor Corp said it was cancelling the night shift at 14 plants.
The capital, Tokyo, will be far from the center of the storm but was set for heavy rains and high winds by the end of Tuesday.
Jebi’s course has brought it close to parts of western Japan hit by rains and flooding that killed more than 200 people in July. However, it was set to speed up after making landfall, minimizing the amount of rain that will fall in one place.