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3,000 people being transported out of typhoon-hit Kansai airport

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Talking about building an airport on an artificial ground, I am living in Dalian, China and they build a new airport on the man made surface as well, copying KIX completely

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Laguna

Totally uninformed guess, but subsidence has been a problem with KIX since its construction, particularly at its center - exactly where the water is pooling, and likely where it flowed into the terminal.

sf2k

Exactly what I was thinking. It's odd to see pools of water given the attention to storm design like gullies and road pitch angles. KIX has had a poor design from the beginning, this shows where very well

I don't think its a design flaw, those areas that the water pooled in were probably planned drainage points. It's more likely that the excess water/rainfall resulted in greater amounts of debris clogging the drainage pipes and led to the flooding. This is just an a guess as well since I don't have a utilities map of KIX but it's a problem that many American cities have had with hurricane flooding.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

The Kansai airport was a first-of-its-kind when it was built in the 1990s. Other airports built on reclaimed land in the sea, such as the Hong Kong International Airport, learned from KIX's design, as well as its failings. When criticizing KIX, some of you forget that it was a revolutionary design at the time which has influenced airport construction across the world and which also solved issues surrounding the fact that a big enough available area in Kansai on top of already-existing land could not be easily found.

The damage wrought by this typhoon hardly warrants some of the groans in this comment section...as with even the best planned works (like Kyoto Station), the effect of abnormally strong typhoons can not easily be predicted.

This all said, I do wish they had somehow build KIX closer to central Osaka but one can't get everything one wants ;-)

1 ( +2 / -1 )

New Kansai, Centair and Kitakyushu's airports all have about a decade left before sea levels rise to the point that they will be flooded out of use.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

LagunaSep. 5  04:03 pm JST

Totally uninformed guess, but subsidence has been a problem with KIX since its construction, particularly at its center - exactly where the water is pooling, and likely where it flowed into the terminal.

Exactly what I was thinking. It's odd to see pools of water given the attention to storm design like gullies and road pitch angles. KIX has had a poor design from the beginning, this shows where very well

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Once again, rushing something that is not ready does not make it safe, nor something we should be thankful for.

My power was out for all but 4 hours. Many people are still without power, perhaps yourself included but compare the reaction time by Japanese authorities and infrastructure related businesses to ANY OTHER COUNTRY, Japan wins 9 out of 10.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Mike Wykoff: "If this were any other country you’d see closures in the weeks at least, so be thankful you live here."

Once again, rushing something that is not ready does not make it safe, nor something we should be thankful for.

-4 ( +1 / -5 )

thepersonIamnow: "Dont you think its amazing thats everything is up and running 12 hours later?"

Doesn't do much good if it's not safe. And what exactly is up and running, amigo? The airport? Nope! Things that were not damaged? Sure!

-2 ( +3 / -5 )

Bill Wright - 'some ozone change'? You are clearly not a climate scientist!

1 ( +1 / -0 )

This is no different that what happens to most major cities when a massive storm in the highest category comes through. Looks just like Houston, New Orleans, Tampa Bay, and New York when they got smashed by hurricanes.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Unbelievable scenes and photos. I simply cannot imagine Kansai International Airport looking like this. I flew out of there only 6 months before. Japan is having lots of bad luck the past years, one in 1000 years Tsunami, earth quake, big floods, hottest summer in history and now this awful Typhoon. It cant be helped, but seems too unfair.

Stay safe, all my friends on Japan Today.

6 ( +7 / -1 )

To those bashing Japan and its ability...

Dont you think its amazing thats everything is up and running 12 hours later? I doubt many countries could pull that off.

Hindsight is 20/20 and complaining is easy.

1 ( +4 / -3 )

think about what just happened. Japan's largest airport just lost its only bridge in and out of the facility due to a tanker that lost its mooring. Sure it was a massive typhoon.

You are misinformed, the bridge is still intact. There is some damage to the westbound lanes 1 and 2 due to the guardrails and lamp poles falling. The eastbound side is fully operational but for safety concerns they have closed the westbound side until the structural assessment and repairs have finished. Trains and traffic of 1 lane in either direction will be running once the airport reopens Friday or the weekend. If this were any other country you’d see closures in the weeks at least, so be thankful you live here.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

Tomorrow I am going back out to work right at Izumisano. Trains running full speed.

Hey...thank you to the good men and women to get everything up and running again!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

And let's cut the "rare horrendous year" stuff, because it's becoming the norm. Massive heat waves for more than three weeks, massive quakes, massive rainfall, massive typhoons. This is going to become exponential, and it won't ever get better. Not until we cease to exist and therefore stop our activities.

However it wasn’t the norm 31 years ago when KIX construction started. No one even talked about climate change back then.

Ill quote Wikipedia here for all the KIX haters.

On 17 January 1995, Japan was struck by the Kobe earthquake, whose epicenter was about 20 km (12 mi) away from KIX and killed 6,434 people on Japan's main island of Honshū. Due to its earthquake engineering, the airport emerged unscathed, mostly due to the use of sliding joints. Even the glass in the windows remained intact. In 1998, the airport survived a typhoon with wind speeds of up to 200 km/h (120 mph).

Note the lack of damage from the earthquake and typhoon.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

People the world over R so quick 2 jump2 climate change when s desaster occurs. Typhoon are formed thru out the world due to air/water mass temp changes and throughout the seasons not because of some Ozone change. This desastet is no different.

-3 ( +2 / -5 )

Japan's largest airport just lost its only bridge

In their haste to complain how crap KIX is for not resisting a massive typhoon, people are making things up rather than use pesky facts.

Perhaps they should have emulated King Canute. Hang on, that didn't work neither. Poor planning by Canute, obviously.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Quite a lot of people sounding off at KIX lack of preparedness. Let’s not forget this was the equivalent to a large Cat.3 hurricane and KIX took it HEAD-ON! Sure the power went out, but that was to be expected given the scale of this unprecedented storm. More than a million have been without power in Kansai. Then to make things worse, a huge tanker took out part of the bridge. Again, not KIX fault. How did all of you people complaining fair in the typhoon? We lost power but I’m not blaming kanden for it or the city for letting trees grow tall.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

Well compared to the utter disgrace after Hurricane Katrina under Bush Jr. in New Orleans, this is a mild problem. I have to say the Japanese achilles heel seems to be transparency and accountability. Wouldn't it have been obvious when this massive airport was built 30 years ago or whenever that it was unlikely to stand the test of time. This is however a boost for Itami and Kobe airports, and maybe even Nagoya which is underutilized.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

@ Bill Adams.... think about what just happened. Japan's largest airport just lost its only bridge in and out of the facility due to a tanker that lost its mooring. Sure it was a massive typhoon.... but a boat took out the only bridge. Didn't anybody think this might happen? And if they didn't why? Japan is still in the Minor Leagues when it comes to planning for hypothetical situations and contingencies.

-1 ( +4 / -5 )

At least we can see where some of the subsidence might be from the picture.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

inkochi: "Lots of critical posts, but, yeah, please remember it was a once in one-or-two-generations taifuns in a year of horrendous climate events."

SO FAR... and remember it's not even peak typhoon season yet. And let's cut the "rare horrendous year" stuff, because it's becoming the norm. Massive heat waves for more than three weeks, massive quakes, massive rainfall, massive typhoons. This is going to become exponential, and it won't ever get better. Not until we cease to exist and therefore stop our activities.

-4 ( +2 / -6 )

rainyday: Saying, "Japan and KIX Don't look too bad; after all, it was a super typhoon that hit a low-lying area that is... ummm... sinking... and... ohhh..." really doesn't spell out "good thinking" one iota. It was a disaster from the start, and for a country that gets hit by typhoons all the time, as well as earthquakes, tsunami, and other disasters, it's even worse. And this was not the worst typhoon ever -- it was the worst in 25 years, which means there were worse before. All you've done is point out how much worse it was than others have in trying to defend it.

"KIX looks bad but will probably be back in operation in short order."

I have no doubt, but that doesn't mean they'll be taking the appropriate measures to ensure safety. On the contrary, it just means that the bare minimum for running the place is being rushed sot hat Japan doesn't look back since the Olympics are on the way and this one typhoon has crippled a huge part of the nation.

-9 ( +1 / -10 )

@expat = "Put it down to anti-competitive business practices, collusion between politicians and the construction industry, and career bureaucrats landing post-retirement gigs at all of these quasi-private enterprises. Corruption on a massive scale that the media regularly ignores."

That beautifully describes any western country i can think of . Crony capitalism

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Get a grip, chaps! Considering the exceptional strength of this typhoon, the amount of damage - and more importantly, the death toll - is remarkably low.

Everyone is focused on the problems at KIX (probably because there's little else to complain about!), but this is mainly due to the jolly bad luck with the ship hitting the bridge. The flooding will be sorted in a couple of days.

Overall I think Osaka has come out of this quite well. Of course one could always have more safety features and emergency resources, but these cost money, and if they are only needed every 25 years - or even once a year, for that matter - then they are simply not cost-effective. A few days of disruption is not the end of the world. Whatever happened to stoicism and a stiff upper lip?

7 ( +7 / -0 )

So, it would seem that building an international airport on a manmade island only a few meters above sea level without a seawall and without adequate drainage was not such a good idea, hey?

The documentary about the building of this airport regularly airs on one of my cable channels. They try hard to make it seem as though the place was prepared for anything.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Does anyone know if Itami still has Customs and Immigration facilities? Clutching at straws here.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Itami once was the international airport serving the Kansai region. Once KIX opened, Itami became the domestic airport.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

"The figures could increase as an airline source said the airport will remain closed on Thursday, even though the government set up a taskforce at the prime minister's office aimed at quickly getting it back up and running."

There goes my flight out tomorrow. Unless Abe-kun can waive his magic wand and get it open.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Dunno who's responsible for this (passengers themselves, airlines, airport authorities, govt... ?) but i fail to understand why so many ppl went to kix on Tuesday morning hoping/thinking all would be ok?

5 ( +6 / -1 )

Used to be ferries to other places besides Kobe Airport form KIX (eg. to Tokushima and Awaji). Wound down over the years.

Oh well - until the causeway-bridge is fixed, nobody's going nowhere, except Narita.

Now what about that other, underused airport on an artificial island off Kobe. LCCs interested?

Lots of critical posts, but, yeah, please remember it was a once in one-or-two-generations taifuns in a year of horrendous climate events.

Not your average weather-year in Japan.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Conferences in the Kansai and Kinki area also cancelled; overseas attendees could not get in, and knock-on effect to hotels, restaurants, business vendors, staff, taxis, buses, etc.. Bigger hit to Japan' reputation as technologically-advanced and well-prepared for disasters.

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

Simply saying that: Typhoons were heading from south to north and rotating east. Here in Kyushu or much south Okinawa, people usually are much prepared to avoid disasters. However those typhoon are getting violent every year and the route are changing much east of that "normal course" to hit direct eastern regions (where there were no curbs) causing big punch, where people not really have known how to confront. Climate changes create not-prevailed disasters from now on, we have to know precisely about it. The typhoon that hit Kanto area went opposite direction, west to south, first time to see that phenomena in my life.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

This is factually wrong. The torrential rains in July alone will cost Japan $2.39 billion. So with what sort of stretch of the mind can someone state that the damage are "remarkably" low? And just wait until they come up with figures for the damage caused by this typhoon.

Cost of Hurricane Maria to Puerto Rico = $139 Billion.

2.39 Billion is a lot, but for the most powerful typhoon to hit Japan in 25 years, and to hit its second biggest population centre dead on its way less than it could have been.

> This comparison makes little sense. It all depends on the strength of the event. But I would remind you that the torrential rains in July killed over 200 people in Japan. So yes death tolls in the hundreds....pulation centre dead on, its nowhere near as bad as it could have been.

True, its not a perfect comparison. And yes, the Japanese countryside is not well equipped to deal with landslides caused by torrential rains but that is something different from a typhoon hitting Osaka, I don't think there were any major landslides caused by the typhoon.

I am not sure if you don't know or pretend not to know, but this thing has been sinking at a pace 44 years faster than planned. So how could you claim that this has nothing to do with it being easily flooded?

Yes, I know. I've been using KIX on and off since I first arrived here in the late 90s shortly after it opened and the debate on its subsidence was still being argued way more prominently than it is now. I am in no way a huge fan of the airport (and I was way more opposed to the construction of Kobe airport nearby), it has been a huge boondoggle and waste of public resources and yes, the subsidence is a massive problem which, yup, leads to it being vulnerable to flooding in massive typhoons that bring storm surges, though this I believe is the first time this has occurred in 25 years. But, in terms of disasters, the runway looks like it is almost dried out less than 24 hours after being inundated, so maintain some perspective.

3 ( +8 / -5 )

 property damage is remarkably low. 

This is factually wrong. The torrential rains in July alone will cost Japan $2.39 billion. So with what sort of stretch of the mind can someone state that the damage are "remarkably" low? And just wait until they come up with figures for the damage caused by this typhoon.

 Compare this to the hurricanes that hit the US and have death tolls in the hundreds or thousands 

This comparison makes little sense. It all depends on the strength of the event. But I would remind you that the torrential rains in July killed over 200 people in Japan. So yes death tolls in the hundreds....

Having a ship run into a bridge isn’t something engineers can prevent and could happen anywhere.

I am not sure if you don't know or pretend not to know, but this thing has been sinking at a pace 44 years faster than planned. So how could you claim that this has nothing to do with it being easily flooded?

-4 ( +4 / -8 )

I am not so sure this really says anything bad about Japan or KIX as some comments are suggesting.

This was a super typhoon with 200 kmh winds, with a storm surge hitting an extremely low lying city which is one of the most densely populated places on earth, yet the death toll and property damage is remarkably low. Compare this to the hurricanes that hit the US and have death tolls in the hundreds or thousands and way more proprty damage despite being in way less populated areas and I know which country I feel safer riding out a storm in.

KIX looks bad but will probably be back in operation in short order. Having a ship run into a bridge isn’t something engineers can prevent and could happen anywhere. And the flooding, though incredible, is alao short lived as thephoto at the top of this story shows.

-1 ( +11 / -12 )

"For a country that tends micro-manage the heck out of everything there seems to be a heck of a lot of design flaws and poorly managed infrastructure."

Put it down to anti-competitive business practices, collusion between politicians and the construction industry, and career bureaucrats landing post-retirement gigs at all of these quasi-private enterprises. Corruption on a massive scale that the media regularly ignores.

1 ( +8 / -7 )

Such a typical Japan screw up.

The flooding of the airport was meant to happen given that the design and conception of this airport was utterly flawed. This airport has cost an astronomic amount of money to build and prevent it to sink faster than it is already doing, and the fact that the runaway and the basement floor of a terminal building were flooded so easily is just showing even more how unprofessional and arrogant the architects and engineers of this atrocity were.

6 ( +10 / -4 )

"We could not use vending machines that were supposed to work at a time of a disaster, or Wi-Fi..." How typical. Wait until 2020, Japan's reputation for competence is going to take a hit like that bridge took.

1 ( +6 / -5 )

It seems that Kansai airport did not think much about tidal waves by bigger typhoon. It is now useless airport for a while.

4 ( +6 / -2 )

Also, looking at various sites for KIX there seems to be a scarcity of information on the airport’s condition.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

Kansai airport, one of the biggest in Japan, remained closed and over 200 flights were canceled for Wednesday, affecting over 30,000 people.

One of its two runways and the basement floor of a terminal building were flooded a day earlier due to strong winds and high waves from Typhoon Jebi.

So, it would seem that building an international airport on a manmade island only a few meters above sea level without a seawall and without adequate drainage was not such a good idea, hey?

It would also seem their back up electricity plan was also insufficient. Let me guess, the back up generators are in the basement that was flooded, right? That has a familiar ring to the meltdowns in Fukushima, doesn't it?

For a country that tends micro-manage the heck out of everything there seems to be a heck of a lot of design flaws and poorly managed infrastructure.

14 ( +19 / -5 )

A small part of the "outside" population has just discovered a large part of the truth:

-Japan is not prepared for disasters

-companies highly responsible

-and wifi is not widely available.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

It's going to be left to future generations to undo problems created by bubble years hubris. Assuming these problems can be undone.

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

@JeefLee

There are various sea transports linking KIX with various destinations.

5 ( +8 / -3 )

Totally uninformed guess, but subsidence has been a problem with KIX since its construction, particularly at its center - exactly where the water is pooling, and likely where it flowed into the terminal.

https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/enginering-went-totally-wrong-kansai-airport-japan-ocean-nawaqavou

8 ( +11 / -3 )

I wonder if they will consider making Itami an international airport after this debacle. Would be good for business in that rundown area. But probably too many safety issues involved since it's surrounded by residential areas. KIX is not really convenient unless you stay in downtown Osaka.

2 ( +5 / -3 )

"A number of passengers who were successfully relocated complained that Kansai airport was under-prepared for such a disaster."

A LOT of Japan is ill-equipped to deal with major disasters, as has been seen time and again, be it earthquakes, floods, typhoons, or even volcanoes. When building KIX, the government asked airlines of international companies what they thought of the idea, and most of them said it was too costly, and a bad idea to put it out on the water on a manmade island, to which KIX said, "It's none of your business" and built it anyway, then fobbing off the costs of keeping it afloat on us, and KIX is in the red every year as a result. When they decided to build a second runway and asked once again whether other airlines thought it was a good idea and would they land there, they said no. KIX then said, "Who asked you?" and built it anyway, for which the majority of airliners moved their flights to Narita (hence, not a lot of direct flights from KIX anymore outside of Asia). Now not only do we see one of the reasons why KIX was a bad idea, as well as having a single connection to the main island, but that they were not equipped to deal with such a disaster despite promising they were. And now flights aren't being diverted to Itami (formerly Osaka International), Kobe International, or even Chubu International (Nagoya), they're being diverted to what Japan wishes to be Asia's hub: Narita. I'm guessing the airlines and the government aren't paying for the shinkansen or bus rides to Osaka from Narita after people who wanted to come to Osaka are put in Chiba.

And let yesterday serve as a lesson to posters like Scrote and Speed, angry at weather forecasters for making a fuss over the typhoon, which was "nothing", and questioning their credibility.

16 ( +25 / -9 )

File KIX with Fukushima Dai-Ichi and the Tokyo Olympics as disasters waiting to happen.

Only one route on and off an artificial island, which is a long distance from the mainland? Who needs redundant safety systems in a disaster-prone region anyway.

6 ( +13 / -7 )

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