Kansai International Airport, storm, flood, typhoon, operations, flights, cancel, stranded
Kansai airport before the flood (photo: Kansai International Airport)

Airport cut off after typhoon in Japan

A tanker slams into a bridge connecting the offshore international airport, stranded 3,000 passengers.

The most powerful typhoon to hit mainland Japan in 25 years has smashed a tanker into a bridge, forcing the closure of one of the country’s biggest airports, stranding passengers and cancelling hundreds of flights.

At least 10 people have been killed and 300 injured since Typhoon Jebi rammed western Japan bringing 160km/h winds and driving rain. Almost half a million households are without power.

A runway and other facilities at Kansai International Airport have been flooded. But a more dramatic scene was a huge ship that became unmoored are wedged itself into the bridge linking the offshore airport to the mainland, damaging the bridge enough to make it unusable.

This stranded around 3,000 passengers overnight at the airport in the dark, but this morning the calmer weather meant they could leave by boat or by bus over part of the bridge that was still intact, the news agency AP reports.

“We could not use vending machines or access wireless local network to get information, and we didn’t even know about this boat service,” one passenger told Kyodo News.

Another passenger added: “It was a rather scary night, as we were so isolated.”

Artificial islands
The airport is built on two artificial islands in Osaka Bay and the seas invaded one of the runways, cargo storage and other structures. One passenger was slightly injured by shards of glass from a shattered window.

Officials at the airport – a gateway for visitors to Osaka, Kyoto and Kobe – have not said when it can resume operations. The waters have mostly ebbed away but assessments are still being made, in particular on the badly damaged bridge.

The closure of the only international airport serving one of Japan’s key business and commercial areas is prompting worries about the impact on tourism and the economy.

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