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12.10.2019 Asia

Japan cancels major sports events and flights in preparation for huge typhoon Hagibis

LISTEN OCT 12, 2019

One person has died in Japan, where authorities are preparing for the landfall of violent typhoon Hagibis on Saturday. The storm has already forced the cancellation of two Rugby World Cup matches, disrupted the Japanese Grand Prix and grounded all departing flights in the Tokyo region.

Hagibis is an unusually large storm, expected to bring "brutal winds and violent seas" to large swathes of the country, Japan's Meteorological Agency (JMA) said.

It is forecast to crash into land in central or eastern Japan early Saturday evening, packing maximum gusts of 216 kilometres per hour.

Hours of torrential rain prompted the JMA to issue their top-level emergency warning for heavy rain for parts of Tokyo and surrounding areas.

By mid-afternoon, more than 13,500 people had moved to shelters, including some whose homes were damaged by the powerful typhoon Faxai that hit the region last month.

By early afternoon, all departing flights from Tokyo's Haneda and Narita airports were grounded, with bullet trains and local trains halting some or all services.

One death, and several injuries reported
But hours before the worst of the storm arrived, a 49 year old man was found dead in a toppled mini truck in Chiba, east of Tokyo.

Five people including a three-year-old boy were sent to hospital, but none suffered serious injuries, the local fire department told AFP.

In Gotemba, west of Tokyo, the fire department said it had rescued one man who fell into a swollen canal but was still searching for a second.

Local authorities warned they would release water from the Shiroyama dam, southwest of Tokyo, in the late afternoon, warning people living near downstream to be on alert.

Sports fixtures disrupted, companies closed
The storm has forced the delay of Japanese Grand Prix qualifiers scheduled for Saturday and the cancellation of two Rugby World Cup matches: England-France and New Zealand-Italy.

It could also jeopardise a key match-up between Scotland and Japan on Sunday. Officials are not expected to make a final decision on that game until Sunday morning, after they have assessed any damage to the venue and transport links.

Scotland face elimination if the match is axed and have warned they could take legal action if the game is cancelled. World Rugby called the threat "disappointing".

Elsewhere, Tokyo's Disneyland and DisneySea theme parks shut up shop in their first ever all-day typhoon closure.

Automakers, including Toyota and Honda, have shut down their factories, and many supermarkets and convenience stores in the capital closed, a day after residents shopping for typhoon supplies emptied the shelves.

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