Typhoon Jebi landed with “very strong” force in Tokushima prefecture Tuesday afternoon, the strongest typhoon to hit the country’s mainland since 1993, said Akihiro Kikuchi, from Japan’s Meteorological Agency.
Winds lashed buildings and whipped up the sea, yanking an 89-meter-long tanker, the Houunmaru, from its anchorage and ramming it into the bridge connecting Kansai Airport with the mainland.
Images showed the ship’s upper decks smashed against bridge, dislodging a portion of the road and forcing authorities to close it to traffic.
Eleven crew members were on board, but no one was injured in the incident, Coast Guard spokesman Keita Sakai said.
The bridge reopened on Wednesday but not before around 3,000 passengers spent a night trapped in the airport. Some were evacuated on buses Wednesday morning to Izumisano Station in Osaka City.
Hundreds of others planned to leave on high speed boats dispatched to Kansai Airport Wednesday to ferry passengers to Kobe Airport to catch alternative flights.
Each boat was capable of carrying 110 passengers, and would go back and forth until all passengers were evacuated, Mami Yamaguchi from the New Kansai International Airport Company told CNN.
All flights were canceled Wednesday, adding to the traffic chaos caused by hundreds of domestic and international flight cancellations on Tuesday.
“Equipments and machines were damaged by the flooded water in a part of the terminal. We don’t know when we can re-open,” Yamaguchi said.
Storm surges also swamped runways at Kansai Airport, with water washed in from Osaka Bay. Flight cancellations also affected Itami Airport in Osaka and Chubu Centrair International Airport in Nagoya.
Aerial images of the damage showed rows of cars that had been consumed by flames at an auctioneer’s lot in Nishinomiya, Hyogo prefecture.
It’s not clear what caused the blaze, but police suspect wires could have short-circuited in the rain. Local police said a total of 187 cars caught fire.
Firefighters weren’t able to reach the area due to flooded streets. They eventually put out the flames at 9:35 p.m. local time after spraying water from the sea.
The Fire and Disaster Management Agency said Wednesday that more than 400 people had been injured across 20 prefectures.
More than 8,000 residents had sought shelter in 1,667 evacuation shelters in 24 prefectures, it added.
On Japan’s main island of Honshu, nine cities and towns issued compulsory evacuation orders. A further 53 issued non-compulsory evacuation orders.
Towns and cities in the prefectures of Gifu, Aichi, Kyoto, Osaka, Hyogo, Nara and Wakayama on Honshu, along with Tokushima, Kagawa and Kochi on the island of Shikoku were affected.