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World & Nation

Super typhoon on track to batter central Japan

Japan Asia Typhoon
A satellite photo taken Wednesday by NASA-NOAA’s Suomi NPP satellite shows Typhoon Hagibis approaching Japan. Japan’s weather agency is warning the powerful typhoon may bring torrential rains to central Japan over the weekend.
(Associated Press)

Japan is bracing for a super typhoon on track to hit central and eastern regions over the three-day weekend with potentially destructive torrential rains and strong winds.

Typhoon Hagibis has already caused cancellations of two Rugby World Cup matches that were to be played Saturday. Organizers canceled the England-France match planned in Yokohama, near Tokyo, and the New Zealand-Italy game in Toyota, in central Japan.

Organizers also called off a marathon in Sendai and other northern coastal towns. Formula One auto racing in Suzuka in central Japan may also be affected.

Hagibis, which means speed in Filipino, had maximum sustained winds of up to 168 mph and stronger gusts at noon Thursday near Chichi island in the Pacific, about 620 miles off Tokyo’s southern coast. It was moving north at 12 mph and is expected to weaken over cooler waters as it nears Japan’s main island.

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It’s the equivalent of a Category 5 hurricane.

The Japan Meteorological Agency says the typhoon is forecast come ashore in the Tokyo area late Saturday and urged people to take precautions to avoid potentially life-threatening conditions. Japan’s central Pacific coast may see torrential rains beginning Friday while high waves and tides may cause flooding.

Airline and train services anticipate cancellations affecting holidaymakers traveling over the three-day weekend that includes Sports Day holiday on Monday.

The approaching typhoon is spreading fear, especially in Chiba, near Tokyo, which was hit by Typhoon Faxai last month and many residents are still recovering from damage to their homes. The typhoon tore many electrical poles and snapped cables, triggering extensive outages that lasted for weeks, contributing to heat illnesses and other health problems among elderly people.

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Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga, at a regular news conference, said the government will do the utmost for the people’s safety, and urged residents near the typhoon path to take precautions early.

In some places, preparations have started.

Local offices in Chiba city started distributing free sandbags to shield against flooding. The city also warned of power outages and urged residents to make sure they have enough food and water, and to have their phones charged.

In Chofu, in Tokyo’s western suburbs, workers at the city hall renovation site reinforced scaffolding and placed protective nets to prevent equipment and construction materials from being blown off.

At a winery in Yamanashi, north of Tokyo, workers picked grapes Thursday to save them from the typhoon, Japan’s NHK television said.

East Japan Railway Co. said it may suspend service on most local lines and bullet trains around Tokyo before the typhoon arrives.

Japan Airlines and All Nippon Airways said they may ground flights as early as Friday, depending on the typhoon’s movement.

Japan is regularly hit by Pacific storms, including Faxai in September. Typhoon Jebi flooded a terminal and a runway at Kansai International Airport last year.


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