Typhoon Jebi struck the heart of one of Japan’s largest metro areas on Tuesday, killing at least eight people and shutting down Osaka’s main international airport indefinitely, leaving close to 3,000 people trapped inside. The storm – the strongest on earth so far in 2018 – made landfall on Tuesday, bringing widespread flooding and winds of up to 130 miles an hour; it paralyzed swaths of the country shuttering shops, factories and amusement parks.
The storm was the strongest to make a direct hit on the nation’s main islands in 25 years, causing high tides that flooded Kansai International Airport, a key gateway for flights from China and other Asian countries that was built on an artificial island in 1994.
The typhoon prompted government evacuation orders for more than 49,000 people across southern Japan, with an additional 2 million people advised to flee, the Fire and Disaster Management Agency said. Early in the afternoon on Tuesday, an oil tanker unmoored by the storm crashed into the only bridge that connects Kansai International Airport in Osaka Bay to the mainland. The Coast Guard was using a helicopter and patrol boats to rescue crew members, the public broadcaster NHK said.
The storm traversed Japan’s main island of Honshu before traveling up its western coast, leaving a trail of death. Among the fatalities was the owner of a warehouse that collapsed on him, news reports said.