Typhoon Jebi Paralyzes Kansai Airport and Major Transportation

Typhoon Jebi Paralyzes Kansai Airport and Major Transportation. The typhoon struck Jebi in the heart of one of Japan's largest metropolitan areas, killing ten people and shutting down Osaka's main international airport indefinitely. The storm has also closed stores, factories and amusement parks.

The storm was the strongest to have a direct impact on the main islands of the country in 25 years, causing strong tides that flooded the Kansai International Airport, a key gateway for flights from from China and other Asian countries built on an artificial island in 1994.

Kansai Airport Flooded

Typhoon Jebi Paralyzes Kansai Airport and Major Transportation, pic: Kansai Airport Flooded

About 3,000 people, including passengers were stranded after an airport access bridge was damaged by a tanker drift and 700 flights were canceled in Japan. Kansai Airport will not reopen Wednesday.

A high-speed boat that connects the airport with Kobe's closest airport was doing special races on Wednesday morning to remove people who had been stranded. The boat can carry 110 passengers at a time. The airport operator Kansai said that buses can also be used in the effort, taking the lanes are not affected by the collision with the ship's deck.

Kansai is the third largest airport in the country, after the footbridges of Tokyo, Narita and Haneda. In 2017, it handled 28 million passengers, three quarters of them abroad.

One of the two runways of the airport and ground floor of a terminal building, used to sort the luggage and other activities were tens of inches of water.

Land-based airport vehicles were partially flooded, and the bridge was hit by a 2,591-ton tanker to ease the storm. NHK has broadcast images of a large crater on the bridge. The tanker had 11 crew members on board and a helicopter rescue operation was in progress.

The Ministry of Transportation said it could not assess the total amount of damage at Kansai airport and no Japanese airport reported widespread flooding in recent years. It is not known when the bridge can be reopened.

Bridge repair will take some time, according to Nippon Expressway West, the operator of the road that passes through it.

Kansai airport plays an important role in Japan's distribution network, and the closure will seriously affect supply chains, especially for semiconductors.

Last year, 5.64 trillion yen ($ 50.6 billion) of exports and 3.94 trillion yen in imports passed through the airport. Electronic components, such as semiconductors, were the largest exporters at 1.29 trillion yen, while pharmaceuticals were the most importing 690 trillion yen.

But without an access bridge, the movement of goods from this center will cease as it becomes little more than an isolated island.

Disco, a precision equipment manufacturer, may see delays in exporting its plant in nearby Hiroshima Prefecture. The semiconductor equipment manufacturer Holdings Screen uses the airport to provide products and parts, but will look at other channels, depending on how the situation evolves, a spokesman said.

Companies will work to secure other routes in case of prolonged restoration. A shipping company that handles home deliveries said it would use alternative facilities such as Osaka International Airport, also known as Itami Airport.

All Nippon Airways and Japan Airlines on Wednesday canceled all domestic and international flights at Kansai Airport. The airport welcomed a record 28.8 million passengers last year as the region became increasingly popular with tourists, particularly in Asia. A slow recovery will inevitably hurt visitors to Japan.