Several dead and one million urged to evacuate as Japan hit by strongest typhoon in 25 years

A powerful typhoon barreled across western Japan on Tuesday, reportedly killing at least six people and causing considerable damage, as well as widespread travel chaos.

Typhoon Jebi was briefly the strongest storm to hit Japan since 1993 with wind gusts of up to 216 km/h (135 mph).

The storm made landfall on the southwestern island of Shikoku around noon, and then again on the country’s main island of Honshu, near the city of Kobe. By evening it was heading into the Sea of Japan.

NHK national television said the dead included one elderly man who fell from his apartment in the city of Osaka, the worst hit area, and another man buried under a collapsed warehouse in Shiga prefecture. 

The broadcaster said that the storm also left over 160 people with minor injuries, and cut power to around 1.6 million.

A tanker slammed into the side of a bridge connecting the airport to the mainland, damaging part of the bridge and the vessel in OsakaCredit:
Kentaro Ikushima / Mainichi Newspaper

The swollen seas and high winds propelled a 2,591-ton empty tanker anchored in Osaka bay into a bridge linking the mainland to Kansai International Airport, which was also partially flooded. Nobody was reported hurt in the incident that reportedly left thousands stranded in the terminal building.

Local media said around 700 flights were canceled. Jebi also forced the suspension of services on many ferries and trains, including the high-speed bullet train between Tokyo and Hiroshima.

Damaged traffic boards and telecommunication relay poles are seen after they were brought down by strong winds caused by typhoon Jebi in Osaka Credit:

The storm dumped large amounts of rain through much of the country, with 100mm (3.9 inches) falling in the tourist city of Kyoto in an hour.

Most of the destruction, however, appears to have been wrought by the wind that was seen in videos ripping off part of the roof of Kyoto’s train station. Local TV news featured images of an empty ferris wheel in Osaka spinning furiously around.

Motor vehicles were smashed up and blown onto their sides in Osaka  Credit:

Jebi comes as western Japan is still recovering from massive flooding and landslides that killed over 200 people and left thousands homeless in July. The high death toll was widely blamed on the reluctance of locals to act on evacuation warnings. 

Boats float along with debris as Typhoon Jebi hits Nishinomiya CityCredit:

As Jebi approached, Japanese authorities issued evacuation warnings for over a million people, accompanied by appeals for these to be taken seriously.

Shinzo Abe, the prime minister, urged people to evacuate early and ordered his government to take all necessary measures to protect residents.

As the storm approached, Abe called a disaster response meeting and cancelled a trip to western Japan.

"I urge the Japanese people to take action to protect your lives, including preparing and evacuating early," he said.

He instructed his cabinet to "take all measures possible".

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