Japan: Tokyo braces itself for worst typhoon in 60 years

Tokyo was bracing itself on Saturday for the worst typhoon to hit the city in six decades.

Typhoon Hagibis was hurtling towards the Japanese capital with winds expected to reach maximum speeds of 216 kilometers per hour (134 miles per hour), Japan's Meteorological Agency (JMA) said. It was forecast to reach land in central or eastern Japan by late afternoon or early evening, local time.

The JMA forecast up to 80 centimeters (31.5 inches) of rainfall as stockpiling had already ensued ahead of anticipated power outages.

Hagibis has already caused major disruption to transport services, as well as sporting events in the country. Two Rugby World Cup matches have been canceled and qualifying at the Japanese Grand Prix at the Suzuka circuit, five hours to the south of the capital, has been postponed. In excess of 1,600 flights have been grounded as Japan comes to a virtual standstill.

Noncompulsory evacuation orders have also been issued to roughly 600,000 people, according to public broadcaster NHK.

Abe warning

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's Cabinet hosted a disaster management meeting Friday. He said 17,000 police and military forces were ready to be deployed to ensure the safety of citizens. "The typhoon could cause power outages, damage to infrastructure and significantly affect people's lives," Abe said.

Four injuries had already been reported by local media early on Saturday morning in the city of Ichihara, east of Tokyo.

Japan receives approximately 20 typhoons per year but it is not so common for Tokyo to be affected.

Hagibis is approaching just weeks after another powerful storm, Typhoon Faxai, resulted in two deaths and injured dozens more in the city of Chiba.

The typhoon that hit the Tokyo area 61 years ago resulted in more than 1,000 deaths, as well as seeing about 500,000 houses flooded.

jsi/dr (AFP, dpa, AP, Reuters)

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