KOBE, Japan: Typhoon Jebi – the strongest typhoon to hit Japan in 25 years – has taken at least six lives and injured over 160 people, according to Japanese media houses.
The reports were made public on Tuesday after the Japanese government issued evacuation advisories for more than a million people following the storm’s landfall on Shikoku, the smallest main island.
Jebi – whose name means “swallow” in Korean – raked across the western part of the largest main island, Honshu, near the city of Kobe, several hours later, heading rapidly north.
NHK, the national public broadcaster, reported that one of the six fatalities was a 71-year-old man, who died in western Shiga prefecture after being trapped under a warehouse that collapsed in strong wind.
Jebi is considered a category-3 typhoon, out of five, on the Saffir-Simpson scale. According to Kyodo News, it was the strongest typhoon to make landfall in Japan since 1993.
Tides in some areas were the highest since a typhoon in 1961, NHK said, with flooding covering the runways at Kansai International Airport in Osaka.
NHK also reported that an estimated 3,000 passengers are stranded at the Kansai airport, as airline companies cancelled hundreds of flights.
In Osaka, an operation to free the stranded crew of a fuel tanker was called off because of a ruptured gas pipe. Two people were reported rescued, while nine remain on board, according to NHK.
Evacuation advisories were issued as the wind and rain began picking up, the Fire and Disaster Management Agency said.
Wind gusts of up to 208 km/h were recorded in one part of Shikoku, with forecasts as high as 216 km/h.The fast-moving storm quickly crossed the mainland, and by nightfall was heading out to sea from Ishikawa in central Japan.
According to the country’s meteorological agency, most of the country remains in warning.
Scores of ferries and train journeys were also cancelled, local media reported.
Shinkansen bullet train services between the capital, Tokyo, and Hiroshima were also suspended and Universal Studios Japan was closed. Toyota Motor Corp meanwhile said it was cancelling the night shift at 14 plants.
Some 177,000 customers across western Japan lost power, the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry said.
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.
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Damages are expected to put a further strain on Japan’s recovery budget as the country continues dealing with natural disasters.
The threat of further floods comes soon after parts of Japan were hit by torrential rains in July, killing more than 100 people.