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5,000 typhoon-stranded people being transported out of Kansai airport

People stranded at Kansai International Airport, an artificial island in Osaka Bay, due to powerful typhoon Jebi are transported out via a high-speed boat and arrive at Kobe airport on Sept. 5, 2018. (Kyodo)
The runways of Kansai International Airport are submeged under seawater after powerful Typhoon Jobi triggered high waves and high tides on Sept. 4, 2018. (Mainichi)
This photo shows a tanker that smashed into the bridge linking Kansai airport with the mainland. (Photo courtesy of West Nippon Expressway Co.) ( Kyodo)

OSAKA (Kyodo) -- About 5,000 people stranded at Kansai International Airport due to a powerful typhoon that caused a tanker to smash into a bridge linking the offshore facility with the mainland were being transported Wednesday to nearby Kobe airport aboard high-speed boats.

One of Kansai airport's two runways and the basement floor of a terminal building were flooded and the entire facility was closed Tuesday due to strong winds and high waves from Typhoon Jebi.

The typhoon left nine people dead and more than 200 injured after ripping through western Japan.

Three high-speed boats linking the two airports across Osaka Bay carried stranded passengers and others every 15 to 20 minutes, with one boat accommodating 110 people at a time.

To ensure safety, all flights to and from Kansai airport were cancelled Wednesday, with the timing of its reopening not yet decided, according to its operator.

All Nippon Airways Co., Japan Airlines Co. and low-cost carrier Peach Aviation Ltd. have cancelled 184 domestic and international flights scheduled for Wednesday, affecting about 27,000 people.

Those stranded at the airport building Tuesday, part of which suffered a power outage, were given dry biscuits, water and blankets and stayed overnight in the facility, with the operator also making available for them a conference room at an adjacent hotel.

On Tuesday afternoon, the 2,591-ton Houn Maru, which had been anchored in Osaka Bay, was swept toward the approximately 3,700-meter-long bridge, damaging the sole gateway by land to the airport, which sits on a manmade island in the bay.

The tanker was towed by a tugboat some 400 meters away from the bridge around 3 a.m. Wednesday.

The Kansai airport operator said those stranded at the airport may also be transported by bus to the mainland using lanes not affected by the ship's collision with the bridge.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said in a Facebook post Wednesday that 25 buses had arrived at Kansai airport to transport the stranded passengers.

The governmental Japan Transport Safety Board is set to dispatch three investigators to Kansai airport on Wednesday to probe the tanker collision and interview its crew members.

The season's 21st typhoon weakened to an extratropical cyclone near Sakhalin in Russia's Far East at around 9 a.m. Wednesday, according to the Japan Meteorological Agency.

Jebi became the first typhoon categorized as "very strong" by the weather agency to make landfall on Japan's main islands since 1993 when a powerful typhoon left 48 people dead or missing.

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