With powerful Typhoon No. 21 causing havoc and huge damage in various parts of the country on Tuesday and Wednesday, rescue activities for about 3,000 stranded passengers and other people began at Kansai Airport, which sits on a man-made island, early Wednesday morning.
However, the entire picture of the damage to the airport facilities could not yet be assessed and it was not clear when operations will resume at the airport.
The typhoon traveled through the Shikoku and Kinki regions and changed into an extratropical cyclone around the Mamiya Strait in northwest Hokkaido on Wednesday morning. According to police and local governments, a total of 11 people were known to have been killed by the typhoon as of 1 p.m. on Wednesday.
Passengers were taken away from the airport island on high-speed boats and buses chartered by Kansai Airports, the operating company for the airport.
Three high-speed boats of the Kobe-Kansai Airport Bay Shuttle service with a capacity of 110 people each began their special operation at 5:50 a.m. on Wednesday. The boats were expected to shuttle all day long between Kansai Airport and Kobe Airport in Kobe, about 22 kilometers north of Kansai Airport.
The chartered buses with a capacity of about 50 people each started after 8 a.m. on the day to ferry passengers from the airport to Izumisano Station of the Nankai Electric Railway in Izumisano, Osaka Prefecture. The buses had to pass over a 3.8-kilometer bridge connecting the airport island with the mainland. During the storm, a tanker had crashed into a span of the bridge carrying what are normally the outbound lanes of traffic, so the buses had to use the span with the inbound lanes.
After seawater poured into the airport facilities due to a storm surge, the 3.5-kilometer Runway A and the aircraft parking apron were flooded across almost their entire area to a depth of up to 50 centimeters.
As the machine room and other places in the basement of the first terminal building of Kansai Airport were inundated with water, parts of the facilities remained without power.
According to the operating company, underground water at the terminal building has almost receded, but water remained on the runways.
According to the Kansai Airport office of the Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism Ministry, there was no damage to the control tower, but part of the radio facility has not been usable due to the flooding.
The airport operating company said that the resumption of operations at the airport depends on how the connecting bridge, damaged when the ship hit it, is restored.
Japan Airlines and other airline companies were considering flying extraordinary flights arriving and departing at other airports for passengers on international flights who planned to use Kansai Airport.
All 11 crew members on the 2,591-ton tanker Houn Maru, which crashed into the bridge, were rescued on Tuesday night. The tanker then was pulled out of the bridge, in which it was embedded, by three tugboats early Wednesday. The Japan Coast Guard's Fifth Regional Coast Guard Headquarters has begun its inspection of the tanker.
Death toll at 11
According to a Yomiuri Shimbun tally, the death toll in the typhoon had reached 11 as of 1 p.m. on Wednesday — eight in Osaka Prefecture and one each in Shiga, Mie and Aichi prefectures. In addition, 507 people were injured in 28 prefectures nationwide. Including 16 destroyed or seriously damaged structures, a total of 1,173 structures were damaged in 28 prefectures.
Within the service area of Kansai Electric Power Co., power failures affected about 540,000 households and businesses as of 10 a.m. on Wednesday. Also within the Chubu Electric Power Co. service area, about 110,000 households and businesses suffered from power failures as of 11 a.m. on the day.Speech.