7 killed, 200 injured as typhoon Jebi hits Japan

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Tokyo, Sep 4 (IANS) At least seven persons were killed and over 200 injured as typhoon Jebi, the most powerful typhoon to hit Japan in 25 years, made landfall in the country’s western part on Tuesday, officials said.

The typhoon also went on to damage cars, buildings, infrastructure and transportation systems, Xinhua news agency reported.

The Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA) said that after making landfall in Tokushima Prefecture, the typhoon passed near Kobe and moved into the Sea of Japan.

Numerous flights, train services and highways were closed in the Kinki region and beyond, and shops, factories and other facilities, particularly in western Japan were closed, including the popular Universal Studios attraction in Osaka prefecture.

The majority of those injured were in western and central Japan.

At Kyoto Station, a number of people were injured when a piece from a glass ceiling collapsed due to the powerful winds, according to police.

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Strong gusts could be felt in areas far from the typhoon, with four people injured after being hit by a roof falling in Hachioji, western Tokyo.

The powerful typhoon forced Kansai International Airport in western Japan to halt operations as high waves caused by the typhoon inundated the airport.

Winds of up to 209 kmph were logged at the airport on Tuesday afternoon and 3,000 people were stranded due to the floods there, authorities said.

According to the Japan Coast Guard, powerful gusts of winds blew a tanker into a bridge that connects the airport with Izumisano City.

A number of high-sided trucks in western Japan were tipped over on a highway by the powerful winds, police said.

Power outages affected around 1.61 million households in the Kansai region and 95,000 in Shikoku. The blackouts were caused by the torrential rain, officials said.

A number of historical and cultural assets and artefacts were damaged as a result of the powerful winds, with temples in Kyoto, Nara and Shiga all suffering damage, according to media reports.

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Typhoon Jebi was travelling at a speed of 75 kmph over the sea off Sado Island, and packing winds of up to 180 kmph, JMA said.

The typhoon is forecast to hit west Hokkaido, although other northerly regions are bracing for impact, with Aomori Prefecture setting up evacuation centres at six different locations, according to media reports.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was due to visit southwestern prefectures on Tuesday, but his plans were cancelled due to the severity of the typhoon.

Abe, in a disaster response meeting, pledged to remain alert in dealing with the impact of the typhoon.

He urged members of the public to listen for evacuation orders, warnings and advisories and if necessary evacuate as early as possible.

More than 700 flights have been cancelled by domestic airlines with Japan’s top two carriers, All Nippon Airways Co. and Japan Airlines Co. cancelling more than 500 flights between them.

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The Tokaido Shinkansen and Sanyo Shinkansen bullet train lines had some services suspended by railway operators and parts of major highways have also been closed, the transport ministry said.

According to the JMA, up to 500 mm of rain is forecast to fall in central Japan and up to 400 mm in western Japan in the 24-hour period through 6 a.m. (Japan time) on Wednesday.

An officials of JMA was quoted as saying that the typhoon has been categorized as “very strong” and based on the strength of its top winds, would be the strongest typhoon to make landfall in Japan since 1993.

By Wednesday, Typhoon Jebi should be downgraded to an extra-tropical cyclone, the JMA said.

–IANS

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