Japan: Typhoon Hagibis, Worst Storm In Decades Wreaks Havoc

Japan: Typhoon Hagibis, Worst Storm In Decades Wreaks Havoc
Hagabis

Torrential rain and tornado-like winds are lashing large parts of Japan, as the country endures what could be its worst storm for 60 years.

The eye of Typhoon Hagibis made landfall shortly before 19:00 local time (10:00 GMT), in Izu Peninsula, south-west of Tokyo.

It is now moving up the eastern coast of Japan’s main island, with wind speeds of 225km/h (140mph).

More than 270,000 homes have lost power, Japanese outlet NHK reports.

Japan: Typhoon Hagibis, Worst Storm In Decades Wreaks Havoc
Satellite View Of Typhoon Hagibis

Two people are said to have died, one a man whose vehicle flipped over in high winds in Chiba prefecture, east of Tokyo. The second was washed away in their car, local reports said.

NHK said 90 injuries had been reported by the early hours of Sunday local time, and nine people were missing.

How dangerous is the typhoon?

More than seven million people have been urged to leave their homes amid severe flood and landslide warnings, but it is thought only 50,000 are staying in shelters.

“Unprecedented heavy rain has been seen in cities, towns and villages for which the emergency warning was issued,” JMA forecaster Yasushi Kajiwara told a press briefing.

 

Japan: Typhoon Hagibis, Worst Storm In Decades Wreaks Havoc
Dmaged Buildings As A Result Of Hurricane Hagibis

“The possibility is extremely high that disasters such as landslides and floods have already occurred. It is important to take action that can help save your lives.”

Japan’s Meteorological Agency (JMA) has warned that half a metre of rain could fall on the Tokyo area between midday on Saturday and Sunday.

Many bullet train services have been halted, and several lines on the Tokyo metro were suspended for most of Saturday.

All flights to and from Tokyo’s Haneda airport and Narita airport in Chiba have been cancelled – more than a thousand in total.

 

Two Rugby World Cup games scheduled for Saturday were cancelled on safety grounds and declared as draws – England-France and New Zealand-Italy. The cancellations are the first in the tournament’s 32-year history.

Four matches scheduled for Sunday now hang on safety inspections at their respective venues. One is a crunch game between Scotland and tournament hosts Japan, and Scotland have threatened legal action if it does not go ahead.

Formula 1 also postponed Saturday’s qualifying races for the Japanese Grand Prix “in the interests of safety for the spectators, competitors, and everyone at the Suzuka Circuit”.

 

Local resident James Babb spoke to the BBC from an evacuation centre in Hachioji, western Tokyo. He said the river near his house was on the brink of overflowing.

“I am with my sister-in-law, who is disabled,” he said. “Our house may flood. They have given us a blanket and a biscuit.”

 

Andrew Higgins, an English teacher who lives in Tochigi, north of Tokyo, told the BBC he had “lived through a few typhoons” during seven years in Japan.

“I feel like this time Japan, generally, has taken this typhoon a lot more seriously,” he said. “People were out preparing last night. A lot of people were stocking up.”

Only last month Typhoon Faxai wreaked havoc on parts of Japan, damaging 30,000 homes, most of which have not yet been repaired.

“I evacuated because my roof was ripped off by the other typhoon and rain came in. I’m so worried about my house,” a 93-year-old man told NHK, from a shelter in Tateyama, Chiba.

Japan: Typhoon Hagibis, Worst Storm In Decades Wreaks Havoc
More Damages By Typhoon Hagibis

 

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What else do we know about the typhoon?

Hagibis means “speed” in the Philippine language Tagalog, and it could be the strongest storm the country has faced since Typhoon Vera in 1959.

Vera hit Japan with winds of 306km/h (190mph) and left more than 5,000 people dead or missing.

By Saturday afternoon local time, footage and pictures showed several rivers had breached their banks. They include the Tamagawa, which flows through residential areas of Tokyo.

 

“There were parts where the bank was not fully built. We had been dealing with it by sandbagging, but water started overflowing,” land ministry official Shuya Nakamura told the AFP news agency.

Many locals stocked up on provisions before the typhoon’s arrival on the authorities’ advice, leaving supermarkets with empty shelves.

Japan weathers about 20 typhoons a year, but Tokyo is rarely hit on this scale.

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