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90 cm of seawater flooded Kansai International Airport Terminal 1 basement

Floodwater covers the floor of the basement power facility at Kansai International Airport on Sept. 5, 2018. (Photo courtesy of Kansai Airports)

OSAKA -- Floodwater that poured into the basement of Kansai International Airport's Terminal 1 (T1) building due to a massive storm surge from Typhoon Jebi on Sept. 4 reached a depth of up to 90 centimeters, according to the operator of the airport.

Kansai Airports, which operates the airport on an artificial island near Osaka Bay, had taken anti-flooding measures including installing boards to block water, but could not prevent the flooding.

The flooded basement facilities include six high-voltage rooms, which were shown to the media on Sept. 11. All electricity used by the terminal goes through these rooms, and the airport operator had taken multiple measures designed to prevent flooding, installing 40-centimeter-tall water-stopping boards, placing power converters inside in elevated positions, and laying sandbags around the entrance of a slope leading to the facilities.

All these measures, however, were in vain, as seawater from a high tide and strong winds from Typhoon Jebi surged into the basement, damaging converters in three of the rooms, causing the ongoing blackout affecting most of the T1 building.

Disaster response minister Hachiro Okonogi inspects the bridge connecting the mainland with Kansai International Airport, located on a manmade island in Osaka Prefecture, after the bridge was damaged by a drifting tanker that crashed into it, on Sept. 11, 2018. (Pool photo)

The walls of underground corridors at the T1 building had water marks reaching 80 to 90 centimeters from the floor. "The flooding was more than we had expected," said a Kansai Airports official.

The operator is checking flooded fuel pits and has closed 3,500-meter-long Runway A to see if the seawater has affected the fuel quality.

On Sept. 11, disaster response minister Hachiro Okonogi inspected the runway and the connecting bridge damaged by a drifting tanker that crashed into it.

(Japanese original by Sayaka Kamohara, Izumisano Local Bureau, Masakatsu Yamasaki and Kensuke Yaoi, City News Department)

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