TOKYO, Oct 11 (Reuters) – A powerful storm approached Japan on Friday, threatening to batter its capital with the heaviest rain and winds in 60 years, disrupting a Formula One Grand Prix and rugby’s World Cup, and raising fears of transport chaos.
Typhoon Hagibis, which means “speed” in the Philippine language Tagalog, is due to make landfall on the main island of Honshu on Saturday, a month after one of the strongest typhoons to hit Japan in recent years destroyed or damaged 30,000 houses and caused extensive power outages.
“The typhoon could bring record-level rainfall and winds,” an official at the Japan Meteorological Agency told a news conference.
The storm could be the strongest to hit Tokyo since 1958 and people should also prepare for high waves and storm surges, the JMA said.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe ordered his cabinet ministers to do their utmost to secure people’s safety.
Officials in the Chiba prefecture east of Tokyo, which was hit hard by typhoon Faxai a month ago, have told people to prepare supplies of food and water for up to three days.
Many of more than 30,000 houses Typhoon Faxai destroyed or damaged in Chiba last month have yet to be repaired.
Japanese Formula One Grand Prix organisers cancelled all practice and qualifying sessions scheduled for Saturday, adding that the qualifying round would be held on Sunday, before the final race takes place as planned.
The approaching super typhoon has already forced the cancellation of two matches of the rugby World Cup on Saturday, while a Sunday match between host Japan and Scotland is in doubt.
Airline ANA Holdings cancelled all domestic flights to and from Tokyo’s two main airports from Friday afternoon.
It and rival Japan Airlines Co cancelled some flights to and from airports servicing the major cities of Osaka and Nagoya.
Most flights operating to and from those airports would be cancelled on Saturday, both airlines said on their websites.
Train operators said they would suspend bullet trains between Tokyo and Nagoya in central Japan and most operations between Nagoya and Osaka, in western Japan, starting Saturday morning, NHK public TV said. Local lines in Tokyo were also expected to be shut down.
Storm surges are likely along the Pacific coast of Honshu Saturday and Sunday, as are torrential rains, raising the risk of floods and landslides, NHK added.
Typhoon Ida, known as the “Kanogawa Typhoon” in Japanese, left more than 1,000 people dead in 1958.