Tokyo: Typhoon Faxai, upgraded to a “very strong” storm with potentially record winds and rain, battered the Tokyo region late Sunday, sparking evacuation warnings to tens of thousands and transport disruption.
Faxai, packing winds of up to 216 kilometres per hour, was bearing down on the Japanese capital and was expected to pass right over the mega-city in the early hours of Monday.
Authorities issued non-compulsory evacuation warnings to more than 1,10,000 people, as forecasters cautioned the rain and wind could reach “record” proportions.
“Please be on full alert against gusts and high waves and be vigilant about landslides, floods and swollen rivers,” the agency said in a statement.
Faxai was likely to cause havoc with the Monday morning commute in Tokyo with train operators forced to suspend major lines until at least 8 am.
“We need to inspect tracks and check if there is any damage as the typhoon is expected to pass through the region overnight,” a train company spokesman told AFP.
The typhoon already caused some travel disruption on its approach with some 100 bullet trains connecting Tokyo with central and western Japanese cities scrapped on Sunday, along with ferries services in Tokyo bay.
Airlines have already cancelled more than 100 flights scheduled on Monday while some coastal highways were closed west of the capital in Kanagawa due to the storm, according to local media.
There were no immediate reports of injuries or significant damage but eight surfers were rescued amid high waves off Shizuoka in cental Japan after they were swept out to sea, local officials said.
“Two helicopters were dispatched while special rescuers rushed out to sea,” a fire department spokesman told AFP. “We sent two of them to hospital but no one was in danger of dying,” he added.
Some department stores and amusement parks, including Tokyo Disneyland, closed earlier than scheduled due to the approaching storm.
Faxai was churning near Izuoshima island, south of Tokyo in the Pacific, at 10.00 pm on Sunday and was travelling north at a speed of 20 kilometres per hour and already producing high waves.
Japan is well used to severe tropical storms and typhoons during late summer and autumn.
Powerful typhoon Krosa lashed western Japan in mid-August, bringing strong winds and torrential rain that claimed one life. And in late August, heavy rains left three people dead as massive floods also hit western Japan.
Typhoon Faxai comes just as teams begin arriving for the Rugby World Cup, which kicks off on 20 September. The French team managed to sneak in just ahead of the typhoon and reach their training camp near Mount Fuji.
However, the Australian Wallabies squad found their preparations disrupted as the typhoon delayed their scheduled arrival.