Japan was bracing on Friday for the arrival of typhoon Hagibis, which threatens to deluge Tokyo with the heaviest rain in 60 years, just a month after a strong storm pummelled the area around the capital, disrupting transport and causing massive power cuts.
“There is an increasing possibility that the very powerful typhoon will make landfall in the Tokai region or the Kanto region tomorrow,” Yasushi Kajihara, who heads the forecast division at the Meteorological Agency, said, referring to central and eastern Japan.
Hagibis is expected to bring “ferocious” winds, high waves and record rainfall to wide areas from the northeast to western Japan, Kajihara told a news conference.
Kajihara added that Hagibis was comparable to the 1958 typhoon that hit eastern and central Japan, killing more than 1,200 people.
He warned of mudslides, flooding, swollen rivers and storm surge, calling on residents to evacuate early and protect their own lives.
Two rugby World Cup matches scheduled for Saturday have been cancelled due to the expected impact of Hagibis, organisers said.
The typhoon also forced changes to the Formula 1 Japanese Grand Prix which is scheduled for this weekend at Suzuka.
Qualifying has been moved from Saturday to Sunday, F1 officials said, as all events on Saturday at the Suzuka Circuit were cancelled.
Airlines have already cancelled about 1,280 flights on Saturday, broadcaster NHK reported.
ANA stopped all domestic flights to and from Tokyo’s two main airports, Haneda and Narita, from Friday afternoon.
ANA and rival Japan Airlines Co also cancelled some flights to and from airports servicing the major cities of Osaka and Nagoya.
Many train services, including high-speed bullet train services, will be suspended in eastern and central Japan on Saturday, rail companies said.
As of 9am local time (12am GMT), Hagibis was about 410km west of Chichi Jima Island, travelling north-north-west at 25kph with maximum sustained winds of 180 km/h and gusts of 252 km/h, according to the agency.
A month ago, typhoon Faxai pounded eastern Japan, including Tokyo, leaving one dead and about 130 injured.
In Chiba prefecture, thousands of households lost electricity and water supply for two weeks.
Officials in the Chiba, just east of Tokyo, have told people to prepare supplies of food and water for up to three days.