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Japan Hit by Jebi, Strongest Typhoon in 25 Years; 2 Million Urged to Flee

TOKYO — Close to 3,000 people were trapped at a major airport in southern Japan after a powerful storm made landfall on Tuesday, bringing widespread flooding and winds of up to 130 miles an hour. Nine people were dead, according to local news reports.

The storm, Typhoon Jebi, prompted government evacuation orders for more than 49,000 people across southern Japan, with an additional 2 million people advised to flee, the Fire and Disaster Management Agency said.

The storm traversed Japan’s main island of Honshu before traveling up its western coast, leaving a trail of death. Among the fatalities was the owner of a warehouse that collapsed on him, news reports said.

Early in the afternoon on Tuesday, an oil tanker unmoored by the storm crashed into the only bridge that connects Kansai International Airport in Osaka Bay to the mainland. The Coast Guard was using a helicopter and patrol boats to rescue crew members, the public broadcaster NHK said.

The local police said that travelers stranded at the airport, which sits on a man-made island, had been issued emergency water, bread and blankets, and that ferries were expected to start bringing people to safety Wednesday morning.

Much of the airport’s runways remained under water into early Wednesday, though the main terminal buildings were safe, said Takayuki Nomori, an officer with the Kansai Airport police.

There “is no way to know” when the airport, or the bridge linking to it, can reopen, he said. Close to 800 flights were canceled and several rail lines, including bullet train services, were suspended.

In Kyoto, damage to the roof of the main rail station brought debris crashing down onto passengers below, injuring three people and closing parts of the station. News footage showed shipping containers strewn across Kobe port, a cargo hub. About 2.2 million homes were without power late Tuesday, according to a central government tally.

The typhoon hit during a summer of meteorological misery for Japan, with floods and landslides killing more than 200 people in western Japan in July, the same month that heat waves claimed more than 130 lives.

Evacuation orders in Japan are not mandatory, but the failure to heed such orders during the July rains was seen as a contributing factor to the high number of deaths.

Makiko Inoue and Hisako Ueno contributed reporting from Tokyo, and Hiroko Tabuchi from New York.

Source: NYT > World

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