Typhoon Hagibis latest: Evacuations ordered and buildings damaged as storm closes in on Japan

Typhoon Hagibis, the strongest storm to hit Japan in decades, has begun reaping devastation along the Pacific coast of the country’s main island, with residents in the most vulnerable areas leaving their homes and taking shelter in evacuation centres.

NHK, Japan’s national broadcaster, has reported that violent gusts have already torn roofs of buildings and left some residents in the Chiba Prefecture with injuries. The storm has also knocked out power to about ten thousand homes across the region.

Hagibis, which has been classified as “very strong” by the Japan Meteorological Agency, is advancing on a northerly path over the south of the main island of Honshu. It’s set on a collision course with Tokyo and the wider Kanto region, which is set to experience record-breaking rain and winds. The storm is due to make landfall on Saturday evening. 

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Fears have been raised that the storm, which is generating gusts of up to 145mph, could match the fury of the 1958 Kanogawa Typhoon, one of the deadliest on record, which killed more than 1,200 people when it hit Japan’s Shizuoka Prefecture.

With the worst-hit areas of the Honshu island set to be deluged by close to three feet of rain in a 24-hour period, the Japan Meteorological Agency has issued emergency warnings of flooding, mudslides and storm surges as high as 42 feet along the coast. Tokyo is predicted to see two feet of downpour.


Rugby World Cup team of round three





1/16 Team of round three

2/16 1. James Slipper (Australia)

3/16 2. Mbongeni Mbonambi (South Africa)

4/16 3. Angus Ta’avao (New Zealand)

5/16 4. Wimpie van der Walt (Japan)

6/16 5. Sam Whitelock (New Zealand)

7/16 6. Rhys Ruddock (Ireland)

8/16 7. Sam Underhill (England)

9/16 8. Kazuki Himeno (Japan)

10/16 9. Frank Lomani (Fiji)

11/16 10. Jordie Barrett (New Zealand)

12/16 11. Semi Radradra (Fiji)

13/16 12. Anton Lienert-Brown (New Zealand)

14/16 13. Timothy Lafaele (Japan)

15/16 14. Cheslin Kolbe (South Africa)

16/16 15. Elliot Daly (England)

1/16 Team of round three

2/16 1. James Slipper (Australia)

3/16 2. Mbongeni Mbonambi (South Africa)

4/16 3. Angus Ta’avao (New Zealand)

5/16 4. Wimpie van der Walt (Japan)

6/16 5. Sam Whitelock (New Zealand)

7/16 6. Rhys Ruddock (Ireland)

8/16 7. Sam Underhill (England)

9/16 8. Kazuki Himeno (Japan)

10/16 9. Frank Lomani (Fiji)

11/16 10. Jordie Barrett (New Zealand)

12/16 11. Semi Radradra (Fiji)

13/16 12. Anton Lienert-Brown (New Zealand)

14/16 13. Timothy Lafaele (Japan)

15/16 14. Cheslin Kolbe (South Africa)

16/16 15. Elliot Daly (England)

Flights in and out of the country have seen extensive disruption so far, with Tokyo’s two main airports subject to the most cancellations. All Nippon Airways and Japan Airlines have collectively cancelled more than 1,000 flights scheduled for Saturday, both domestic and international. Multiple airports throughout the country, including those serving Tokyo, Osaka and Sendai, have also cancelled flights. 

Railway operators have suspended service throughout the Tokyo region, as well as bullet train service between the capital and Osaka and between Osaka and Fukuoka, on the island of Kyushu.

Tokyo Disneyland has shut its theme park, its first weather-related closure since a snowstorm in 1984. The retail giant Seven & I Holdings said it would shut 124 outlets in the Tokyo area. Toyota Motor Corp also announced on Friday it was suspending production at three factories in the country.

In Tokyo, where the streets have quietened and public transport services wound down, tannoy announcements have been made across the city recommending residents to stay indoors. Many department stores in and around the capital have decided to halt trade for the day. Evacuations have also been ordered in Kawasaki, one of the main districts forming the Greater Tokyo Area.

But as a city used to typhoons and built to withstand their effects, Tokyo looks to be prepared for the coming storm. 

George Beadle, a visiting England fan, said on Saturday morning he was struck by the initial sense of calm within the capital. “Even this morning in torrential rain the supermarkets and shops are still open with people cycling down the road,” he said from his accommodation in Shinjuku. “The only difference seems to be a shortage of water and breads in the supermarkets.”

The greater concern to life is away from the central cities and storm-proof areas. In the Chiba Prefecture, which was last month hit by Typhoon Faxai, thousands have sought cover at emergency evacuation centres, taking refuge in schools, temples, and other municipal buildings. Japan Meteorological Agency has warned that houses in the region could be blown over in the violent winds.

Some supermarkets had ran out of bottled water and batteries by Friday afternoon, after officials advised residents in the area to prepare supplies for up to three days. The Chiba Prefecture remains particularly vulnerable to the oncoming storm, having yet to fully recover from the effects of Faxai which damaged buildings and left 900,000 people without power.

Typhoon Hagibis, which means “speed” in the Philippine language Tagalog, has already forced the cancellation of two matches at the Rugby World Cup – England’s clash with France and New Zealand’s encounter against Italy – while the Pool A decider between Japan and Scotland remains on red alert.

As of Saturday morning, the typhoon was considered the equivalent of a Category 5 hurricane under the five-step Saffir-Simpson scale used in the United States.

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