SINGAPORE: When Typhoon Jebi blasted through Osaka’s city centre on Tuesday (Sep 4) the walls at the hostel that Singaporean Luke Tan was staying in shook violently.
“I saw objects in the street being picked up by the wind and turned into flying objects,” the student from the Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD) told Channel NewsAsia.
And when he went went out to get dinner after the storm ended, the sidewalk was covered in debris.
The 25-year-old, who is on a two-week graduation trip to Japan, is just one of many Singaporeans who have been caught up in the most powerful storm to hit Japan in 25 years. The typhoon left in its wake shattered glass, toppled trees and overturned cars. At least 10 people have been killed and dozens injured.
Mr Leslie Tan, who has been living in Osaka for three years was at work when the typhoon was wreaking havoc at its peak on Tuesday lunchtime. When he left work at about 7pm, the devastation was widespread.
“The rain had stopped. The streets were deserted and many shops were closed. I could see fallen trees and debris everywhere. Signboards had collapsed or were dented,” said the 39-year-old.
When he got home to his apartment building a short walk away, he saw that the winds had forced the steel gate to the carpark to bend and buckle, causing it to malfunction. At home, his wife and two children aged one and two were huddled together in the bedroom while waiting for the violent storm to pass.
“The winds were very scary, howling like hungry wolves. My wife was scared the windows would crack,” he said, explaining that his home has floor-to-ceiling glass windows.
For Mr Jason Neo, 30, a sales executive in the automotive industry who has been living in Osaka for more than seven years, the most shocking sight was of overturned vehicles and cars that had crashed into each other at the public parking space near his office.
The two men who live in Osaka said that while they had experienced typhoons, Tuesday's was the worst.
TRANSPORT WOES, CHANGED FLIGHTS
The typhoon has also disrupted the plans of those visiting the area. Transport has been badly disrupted with numerous cancelled flights.
Mr Luke Tan, who was due to return to Singapore on Tuesday but was not able to because of disruptions at the airport, said that the experience of the typhoon itself was bearable.
“Instead, it’s the paralysed transport infrastructure that has made things very stressful,” he said. As of Wednesday evening, Mr Tan’s plan was to take try to get home by first taking a train to Tokyo and spending the night there, before taking a 10am flight to Singapore from Haneda Airport.
Mr Leslie Tan, who was due to fly back to Singapore next week on Singapore Airlines, has had to reschedule his flight. He was told by his travel agent that Osaka’s Kansai International Airport, which is currently flooded and shut down, will only reopen on Sep 11.
A spokesperson for Singapore Airlines (SIA) said that as of Wednesday, SIA has cancelled a total of 12 flights due to the situation. SIA operates twice daily flights to Osaka.
“We have at the same time, mounted additional flights to Nagoya in view of the prolonged flood situation, to offer customers who still need to travel to Osaka an alternative,” the spokesperson added.
Customers holding tickets to and from Osaka between Sep 4 and 10 can contact their nearest SIA ticket office if they would like to rebook to other SIA points in Japan or request a refund of their tickets, he said, adding that the new travel date must commence on or before Sep 30.
Dynasty Travel, which has customers trying to fly into and out of Kansai International Airport may have to land in other airports, like those in Kobe and Nagoya, or fly out from there.
"We are assisting to rebook and reroute accordingly," said the agency's director of marketing communications Alicia Seah.