TOKYO – A powerful typhoon is bearing down on the Japanese archipelago after passing near Okinawa on Saturday, with forecasters warning of strong winds, high waves and heavy rain.
Typhoon Trami has forced airlines to cancel more than 400 flights from or to airports in Okinawa and Kagoshima Prefecture in southwestern Japan. The cancellations affected over 39,000 passengers.
Kansai International Airport in Osaka is preparing to close its two runways from 11am Sunday until 6am Monday, affecting many more flights including those of Thai Airways International, which has cancelled Bangkok-Osaka services for the day.
At least 18 people on the southern island of Okinawa were injured by glass from broken windows or when they were blown over by strong winds, according to local authorities. In Nanjo, a gust of 202 kilometres per hour was recorded.
Trami is expected to make landfall in western Japan and rip through the eastern and northern areas by Monday, the Japan Meteorological Agency said, urging people to stay indoors.
The storm is expected to come very close to Kansai airport, located on a man-made island in Osaka Bay.
The main gateway to western Japan was forced to close earlier this month after a runway and terminal building were flooded amid high tides when Typhoon Jebi made landfall on Sept 4. The airport only resumed full operations on Sept 21.
Trami has gradually picked up speed as it moved toward southwestern Japan.
As of 8pm Saturday, the storm was travelling about 60km west-northwest of Okinoerabu Island in Kagoshima Prefecture, at a speed of 25kph, packing winds of up to 216kph, according to the agency.
Shinkansen service between Tokyo, Shin-Osaka and Hiroshima stations will be halted on Sunday afternoon as the typhoon is expected to affect the areas, bullet train operators said.
The cancelled THAI flights are TG622 and TG672, which are scheduled to fly from Suvarnabhumi airport to Kansai at 23.30 and 8.25 respectively, and TG623 and TG673, which were to leave Osaka for Bangkok at 11.45 and 21.25.
Passengers can contact the national carrier by Oct 7 for a refund or to book a different flight.
Source: KYODO NEWS