Tokyo braces for Hagibis, worst typhoon to hit city in 60 years

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Japanese weather authorities on Saturday issued a top-level emergency rain warning and millions were issued non-compulsory evacuation orders.

A heavy downpour and strong winds are pounding Tokyo and surrounding areas as a powerful typhoon forecast as the worst in six decades approached landfall.

Japanese weather authorities on Saturday issued a top-level emergency rain warning and millions were issued non-compulsory evacuation orders. Train and flight services have been affected.

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

A tornado ripped through Chiba on Saturday, overturning a car in the city of Ichihara, east of Tokyo, and killing a man inside, city official Tatsuya Sakamaki said, adding that five people were also injured.

Rated “large and very strong”, the storm has forced the cancellation of two Rugby World Cup matches, disrupted the Japanese Grand Prix and grounded all departing flights in the Tokyo region.

Hagibis is being compared with a 1958 typhoon that hit eastern and central Japan, killing more than 1,200 people, Yasushi Kajihara, who heads the forecast division at the Meteorological Agency, told a news conference on Friday.

“The streets of Tokyo are very quiet in anticipation of this storm,” said Al Jazeera’s Wayne Hay, reporting from the Japanese capital.

The Typhoon was of particular concern for those living in coastal communities “because its also being combined with near full moon conditions meaning that the tide maybe be a lot higher than usual,” Hay added.

He said there were already reports of power cuts in coastal prefectures east of the capital, such as Ibaraki and Chiba.

“Authorities said they were trying their best to get around to as many communities in Chiba in particular… because many people there are still recovering from a typhoon that struck last month which killed some people and caused a lot of damage”, Hay reported.

The storm caused more than 1,660 flights to be cancelled, according to broadcaster NHK, while many train services, including high-speed bullet train services, were halted in eastern and central Japan, operators said.

Two rugby World Cup games scheduled for Saturday were cancelled due to the expected impact of Hagibis, while the typhoon also affected the Formula 1 (F1) Japanese Grand Prix this weekend at Suzuka.

Qualifying has been moved from Saturday to Sunday, F1 officials said, and all events were cancelled on Saturday at the Suzuka Circuit.

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