At least one dead as Typhoon Hagibis approaches Japan
At least one person has been killed and several injured as Typhoon Hagibis approached central Japan with hurricane-force winds on Saturday.
The storm had weakened as it approached Japan but still remains highly dangerous, with maximum winds of up to 195 kilometers per hour (122 mph) — equivalent to a Category 3 Atlantic hurricane.
Hagibis is due to make landfall Saturday afternoon local time. However it is already affecting much of the central and southern parts of Honshu, Japan’s main island.
Winds between 100 and 130 kph (62-80 mph) are expected to lash southern Japan, including Tokyo, for most of the mid-morning through evening. Up to 200 millimeters (8 inches) of rainfall is also predicted to cause flooding.
Evacuation advisories have been issued throughout much of the Tokyo region, affecting tens of millions of people. The Japanese capital is in lockdown, with usually busy streets abandoned amid torrential rain.
All flights to and from Tokyo and nearby airports have been canceled until at least Sunday morning. All bullet trains between Tokyo, Nagoya and Osaka are also canceled, as are most non high-speed trains.
More than 10,000 households in the Kanto, Chiba and Tokyo areas are without power, according to Japanese provider TEPCO.
Local police said a 49-year-old man in Ichihara City, Chiba prefecture, was killed when a tornado flipped his car Saturday morning.
At least five other people, including three children, where injured as the tornado swept through the city, which lies around 30 kilometers (18 miles) southeast of Tokyo, fire authorities said.
Typhoon Hagibis, one of the worst storms to hit Japan this year, comes as the country hosts the Rugby World Cup.
Two matches, England-France and New Zealand-Italy, were preemptively canceled due to the storm, and World Cup authorities said they were evaluating whether additional matches Sunday would need to be called off.
While authorities made clear that the decision to cancel games was necessary to ensure the safety of players and fans, many were critical of the tournament’s inability to reschedule games and apparent unpreparedness for the extreme weather — despite the World Cup being held during typhoon season.
In canceled games, two points will be awarded to each team, in line with tournament rules. This could have an effect on who qualifies for the next round of the competition, particularly in Pool B, which includes hosts Japan.
While Ireland’s Pool B match against Samoa will go ahead Saturday in Fukuoka prefecture, no decision has been made around Japan and Scotland’s crunch match on Sunday, due to take place in Yokohama, a city south of Tokyo which lies in Hagibis’ path.
A win for Scotland would see it draw level on points with Japan, after which bonus points — awarded for scoring four or more tries or losing within seven points — would come into play to decide who reaches the quarterfinals.
A cancellation — and a draw — would see Japan qualify in second place and face New Zealand in the quarters. Ireland would top the group and face South Africa in the final eight if, as expected, it defeats Samoa. If the match goes ahead and Japan wins, it could take the theoretically easier game against the Springboks and leave Ireland to face the All Blacks.
Meanwhile, all activities scheduled for the Japanese Grand Prix were canceled Saturday, according to Formula One. Efforts are underway to ensure the race proceeds Sunday if the weather improves.