World news

Super typhoon on track to hit central and eastern regions of Japan

A satellite picture shows typhoon Hagibis approaching Japan Picture: NASA Worldview, Earth Observing System Data and Information System (EOSDIS) via AP)
By Mari Yamaguchi, Associated Press

Japan is braced for a super typhoon on track to hit central and eastern regions over the three-day weekend, with potential damage from torrential rains and strong winds.

Typhoon Hagibis has already caused the cancellation of two Rugby World Cup matches that were to be played on Saturday.

Organisers cancelled the England-France match planned in Yokohama, near Tokyo, and the New Zealand-Italy game in Toyoda, in central Japan.

Still under review, however, is the critical meeting between Scotland and Japan, which is also being staged in Yokohama.

If that game does not go ahead, the Scots will be automatically eliminated while the tournament hosts will reach the quarter-finals for the first time.

Organisers also cancelled a marathon in Sendai and other northern coastal towns, and Formula One racing in Suzuka in central Japan may also be affected.

Hagibis, which means speed in Filipino, had maximum sustained winds of up to 270 kilometres per hour (168 miles per hour) and stronger gusts at noon on Thursday near Chichi island in the Pacific, about 1,000 kilometres (620 miles) off Tokyo's southern coast.

It was moving north at a speed of 20kph (12mph) and is expected to weaken over cooler waters as it nears Japan's main island.

It is the equivalent of a Category 5 hurricane.

The Japan Meteorological Agency said the typhoon is forecast to hit ashore in the Tokyo area late on Saturday and urged people to take precautions to avoid potentially life-threatening danger.

Japan's central Pacific coast may see torrential rains beginning on Friday while high waves and tides may cause flooding.

Airlines and train services anticipate cancellations affecting holidaymakers travelling over the three-day weekend that includes the 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 where many residents are still recovering from damage to their homes.

The typhoon tore down many electrical poles and snapped cables, triggering extensive outages that lasted for weeks, contributing to heat illnesses and other health problems among elderly people.

East Japan Railway Company said it may suspend services 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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