Japan typhoon: Hundreds of cars wrecked, at least 11 dead and 600 injured after worst storm in 25 years

Andy Wells
Freelance Writer

The worst storm to hit Japan in 25 years has killed at least 10 people and left cars wrecked after they were engulfed in flames.

Typhoon Jebi, thought to be the worst storm in Japan since 1993, swept across part of the main island, causing some 100 cars at a seaside dealership in Nishinomiya to catch ablaze after their electrical systems were shorted out by sea water.

In Osaka, the Universal Studios Japan theme park remained closed for a second straight day. A news release said it would open again on Thursday.

Hundreds of cars were wrecked after catching fire during Typhoon Jebi (Reuters)
The worst storm to hit Japan in 25 years caused untold damage (Bloomberg)

People were left stranded at a flooded offshore airport overnight and more than one million households remained without power on Wednesday morning.

Japanese broadcaster NHK showed aerial footage of a boat and a caravan of buses transporting about 3,000 people from Kansai International Airport across a partially damaged bridge.

The airport that serves Osaka, one of Japan’s largest cities, remains closed.

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The typhoon peeled roofs off buildings, toppled power poles and damaged businesses as it crossed Japan’s main island on Tuesday.

Japanese media tallied at least nine deaths, and the Fire and Disaster Management Agency said more than 200 people were injured.

Jebi, reportedly the strongest typhoon to make landfall in 25 years, has been downgraded to a tropical storm and is heading north of Japan.

Destroyed vehicles could be seen stacked up following the blaze (Reuters)
High waves triggered by Typhoon Jebi are seen at a fishing port in Aki, Kochi Prefecture, western Japan (Reuters)
An aerial view shows a flooded runway at Kansai airport, which is built on a man-made island in a bay (Reuters)

The Japan Meteorological Agency have announced that it was off the northern coast of Fukui prefecture on Tuesday evening with sustained winds of 78mph and gusts up to 110mph.

Kansai International Airport is built on artificial islands in Osaka Bay, and the high seas flooded one of its two runways, cargo storage and other facilities, said the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism.

One passenger was slightly injured by shards from a window shattered by the storm.

A building damaged by Typhoon Jebi is seen in Osaka (Reuters)
Many cars were destroyed by either falling debris or being blown off the road. (Reuters)

A man in his 70s died apparently after being blown to the ground from his apartment in Osaka prefecture, while a 71-year-old man died after being buried underneath a storage unit that collapsed on him, officials said.

Police said five others died elsewhere in the prefecture after being hit by flying objects or falling from their apartments.

A 2,591-ton tanker that was mooring slammed into the side of a bridge connecting the airport to the mainland, damaging part of the bridge and the vessel.

The tanker’s 11 crew members were not injured and remained on board, according to a regional branch of Japan’s coastguard.

Smoke billows into the air after the typhoon smashed into Japan (Reuters)

A speed boat ferried the stranded passengers from the airport to a nearby Kobe port, while others took buses that used one of the two roads on the bridge that remained intact after the tanker clash.

Appearing relieved but exhausted, passengers said they had to spend the night feeling uneasy in the dark.

Hideko Senoo, 51, who was planning a family trip to India, said the terminal was hot and dark due to power outage, and she could not even buy drinks at vending machines after food at convenience stores were all sold out.

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

Another passenger, Miki Yamada, said she spent the night at an airport cafeteria, Kyodo said. ‘It was a rather scary night, as we were so isolated.’

A tanker crashes into a bridge, causing major damage (AP)

Prime minister Shinzo Abe cancelled a scheduled trip to Kyushu, Japan’s southernmost main island, to oversee the government’s response to the typhoon, said chief cabinet secretary Yoshihide Suga.

More than 700 flights have been cancelled, according to Japanese media tallies. High-speed bullet train services were suspended from Tokyo west to Hiroshima.

The capital escaped relatively unscathed, with some intermittent squalls.

Daihatsu Motor Co stopped production at its Kyoto and Osaka factories, while Panasonic halted work at its air conditioning and refrigerator factory in Shiga.

Major beverage maker Kirin Co suspended production at its brewery in Kobe, according to Kyodo News agency.

In Osaka, the Universal Studios Japan theme park remained closed for a second straight day. A news release said it would open again on Thursday.