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Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 September 2018

Powerful typhoon slams into western Japan

Jebi is the strongest storm to make landfall in the country since 1993

A powerful typhoon blew through western Japan on Tuesday, causing heavy rain to flood the region's main offshore international airport and high winds to blow a tanker into a connecting bridge, disrupting land and air travel.

Jebi was the strongest typhoon to make landfall in Japan since 1993, according to Japan's Kyodo News service.

The storm was heading north across part of Japan's main island of Honshu towards the Sea of Japan. It was off the northern coast of Fukui on Tuesday evening with sustained winds of 126 kilometres an hour and gusts up to 180kph, the Japan Meteorological Agency said.

In the hard-hit city of Osaka, high seas poured into Kansai International Airport, flooding one of its two runways, cargo storage and other facilities.

More than 700 flights were cancelled, according to Japanese media tallies.

A moored tanker slammed into the side of a bridge connecting the airport to the mainland, damaging part of the bridge and the vessel. The tanker's 11 crew members were not injured and remained on board, according to Japan's coastguard.

High-speed bullet train services from Tokyo to Hiroshima were suspended.

Elsewhere in Osaka, the Universal Studios Japan theme park and US Consulate were closed. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe cancelled a scheduled trip to Kyushu, Japan's southernmost main island, to oversee the government's response to the typhoon, said Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga.

The typhoon made landfall on Japan's south-western island of Shikoku and then again near Kobe on Honshu. Television footage showed fallen tree branches and high seas overflowing on to low-lying areas.

Tokyo escaped relatively unscathed, with some intermittent squalls.

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