14-October-2019
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Typhoon Hagibis: Japan braced for biggest storm in decades

Japan is bracing itself for Typhoon Hagibis, the most powerful storm to hit the country in 60 years, to make landfall near Tokyo later on Saturday.

The country is already feeling the effects, with some areas already flooded, tens of thousands of homes without power, and one person dead.

Winds of 180km/h (111mph) could cause further flooding and landslides, the Japan Meteorological Agency has warned.

Some Rugby World Cup matches and Formula One races have been cancelled.

Authorities have issued evacuation advisories in areas at particular risk, while supermarkets are running low as people stock up before the typhoon hits.

Flights and trains have been shut down, while shops and factories have also been closed.

Even while the storm was still out to sea, tornado-like winds battered Chiba, east of Tokyo, damaging homes and toppling a car, killing its occupant.

What do we know about the typhoon?

Hagibis, which means “speed” in the Philippine language Tagalog, is forecast to hit the main Japanese island of Honshu.

It could be the strongest storm the country has faced since Kanogawa Typhoon in 1958, which left more than 1,200 people dead or missing.

“The typhoon could bring record-level rainfall and winds,” an official at the meteorological agency said, citing the risk of floods and landslides.

What will be affected?

The typhoon has made headlines due to its disruption of the Rugby World Cup and Japanese Grand Prix.

Two World Cup games billed for Saturday have already been cancelled, and declared as draws, while Formula 1 has cancelled all activities at the Japanese Grand Prix on Saturday.

But the impact on the local population could be serious.

People have been stocking up on provisions for the coming days on the advice of authorities, leaving supermarkets with empty shelves.

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

Evacuation centres have been opened in some coastal areas.

Transport systems have also been affected, with bullet trains and flights cancelled.

‘At nature’s mercy’

Japan is used to being at nature’s mercy but this year is different.

Typhoon Hagibis – a massive storm expected to bring record rainfall – is forecast to make a direct hit on the greater Tokyo region, only weeks after another strong storm brought destruction to neighbouring Chiba prefecture.

This even larger typhoon has a huge swathe of Japan’s main Honshu island in its sights. Nearly two million people have been urged to evacuate.

Many areas have already seen flooding as heavy rain falls. Tens of thousands of homes are without power. Flights and train services have been cancelled.

It comes as the world’s eyes are fixed on Japan – the host of the 2019 Rugby World Cup.

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