Heavy rain and winds lash Tokyo as strong typhoon approaches

Heavy rain and winds lash Tokyo as strong typhoon approaches

Heavy rain and strong winds have pounded Tokyo as a powerful typhoon forecast as the worst in six decades approached landfall.

Typhoon Hagibis, closing in from the Pacific, brought heavy rainfall in wide areas of Japan ahead of its landfall, including Shizuoka and Mie prefectures, south-west of Tokyo, as well as Chiba to the north, which had suffered power outages and damaged homes from last month’s typhoon.

Under gloomy skies, a tornado ripped through Chiba on Saturday, overturning a car in the city of Ichihara and killing a man inside, city official Tatsuya Sakamaki said.

The Isuzu River swollen by Typhoon Hagibis, in Ise, central Japan (Kyodo News via AP)
The Isuzu River swollen by Typhoon Hagibis, in Ise, central Japan (Kyodo News via AP)

Five people were also injured when the tornado ripped through a house. Their injuries were not life-threatening, Mr Sakamaki said.

The rains caused rivers to swell, flipped anchored boats and whipped up sea waters in a dangerous surge along the coast, flooding some residential neighbourhoods and leaving people to wade in ankle-deep waters.

Authorities also warned of mudslides, common in mountainous Japan.

Rugby World Cup matches, concerts and other events have been cancelled. Flights were grounded and train services halted. Authorities acted quickly, with warnings issued earlier this week, including urging people to stay indoors.

The typhoon that hit the Tokyo region in 1958 left more than 1,200 people dead and a half-million houses flooded.

Some 17,000 police and military troops have been called up, standing ready for rescue operations.

A woman films surging waves as Typhoon Hagibis approaches at a beach in Kumano, Mie prefecture (Toru Hanai/AP)
A woman films surging waves as Typhoon Hagibis approaches at a beach in Kumano, Mie prefecture (Toru Hanai/AP)

Hagibis, which means “speed” in Filipino, was advancing north-northwestward with maximum sustained winds of 100 miles per hour, according to the Japan Meteorological Agency.

It was expected to make landfall near Tokyo later on Saturday, unleashing up to 20 inches of rains and then blow out to sea eastward.

Evacuation advisories have been issued for risk areas, including Shimoda city, west of Tokyo.

Dozens of evacuation centres were opening in coastal towns, and people were resting on gymnasium floors, saying they hoped their homes were still there after the storm passed.

The storm has disrupted this nation’s three-day weekend, which includes Sports Day on Monday.

Qualifying for a Formula One auto race in Suzuka was pushed to Sunday. The Defence Ministry cut a three-day annual navy review to a single day on Monday.

All Nippon Airways and Japan Airlines grounded most domestic and international flights scheduled at the Tokyo, Osaka and Nagoya airports.

Central Japan Railway Co said it will cancel all bullet train service between Tokyo and Osaka except for several early on Saturday trains connecting Nagoya and Osaka. Tokyo Disneyland was closed.

Ginza department stores and smaller shops throughout Tokyo shuttered ahead of the typhoon.

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