Typhoon Hagibis: Japan hit by biggest storm in decades

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Typhoon Hagibis: Japan hit by biggest storm in decades
More than seven million people have been urged to leave their homes

(BBC) — 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.

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.

“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”.

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