As Japan has seen the strongest storm in 25 years with Typhoon Jebi, it has also crippled one of Asia’s major travel hubs.
The region is home to one of Asia’s unique airports – Kansai International Airport – which was made on a man-made island in Osaka Bay. It has been reported that the airport was flooded due to the large amount of rainfall from the storm, prompting the airport to be shut down indefinitely.
Among the first reported damage caused by the storm in the area was the flooding at Kansai Airport, which also is Japan’s third busiest airport after Tokyo’s Narita and Haneda airports. Local news reports show the two runways and the tarmac flooded, prompting flight cancellations that have left 3,000 passengers stranded. It was also reported that the basement of the terminal also experienced flooding.
In addition to the flooding at the airport, an oil tanker hit and substantially damaged the bridge connecting the airport to the city.
The flooding is the worst damage from any natural disaster for the airport since it opened in 1994. Within the first decade after it opened, it survived a major earthquake with an epicenter of 20 km (12 mi) from the airport and a typhoon.
Kansai Airport is the main international gateway for the city of Osaka, so the closure and repair work required will heavily impact air travel not just for the city but also the country. The area is also served by Itami Airport and Kobe Airport, which serves mostly domestic flights.
The timeframe for opening Kansai after such damage is still not known. By comparison, it took about a month for Sendai Airport to be reopened after a tsunami brought a wave and debris onto the runways following a powerful earthquake in northern Japan in March 2011.