A strong typhoon has battered into western Japan, paralyzing the region’s main international airport, blowing a tanker into a bridge, disrupting land and air travel and leaving thousands stranded.
According to local media, seven people died and more than 100 others were injured when Typhoon Jebi caused violent winds in the west of the country. The storm is the strongest to hit the country in 25 years.
Citing the public broadcaster NHK, the casualties included a 71-year-old man who was killed in western Shiga prefecture after being trapped under a warehouse that collapsed in strong wind. NHK said 164 people had suffered mostly minor injuries.
Several people were injured at Kyoto station when part of a glass ceiling collapsed, according to police.
A number of vehicles were blown on to their sides on a motorway, while a truck narrowly escaped being swept off a bridge connecting the island of Shikoku and the main Japanese island of Honshu.
Television networks showed dramatic footage of a 2,591-tonne tanker that collided with the side of a bridge linking the mainland with Kansai International airport, which stands on an artificial island in Osaka Bay. The tanker and bridge were damaged but the ship’s crew were unhurt.
The airport’s runway and the basement floor of a terminal building were flooded, according to local authorities.
The damage to the bridge left the airport cut off from the mainland and stranded around 3,000 people there, an official said.
Evacuation advisories were issued for 1.19 million people, along with a stronger but non-mandatory evacuation order for a further 16,000 people, as the wind and rain began to intensify on Tuesday afternoon. Most of those advised to leave their homes and head to 1,500 temporary shelters were in the western port city of Kobe.
The meteorological agency said in a televised warning that the system could trigger violent winds, landslides and flooding in southern and south-western parts of the archipelago, as well as high tides, lightning and tornadoes.
The prime minister, Shinzō Abe, urged residents to “evacuate early” and cancelled a planned trip to Kyushu in Japan’s south-west so he could oversee the government’s response.
While the typhoon is not expected to make a direct hit on Tokyo, its path will take it over the cities of Osaka and Kyoto before it heads out to sea, according to the meteorological agency.