The storm has damaged houses in Ichihara, Chiba prefecture

The storm has damaged houses in Ichihara, Chiba prefecture
High winds and record-breaking rains battered Tokyo and large swaths of central and eastern Japan on Saturday evening, leaving two people dead and nine missing after several rivers burst their banks and landslides buried houses.

Life in the capital had ground to a halt even before Typhoon Hagibis made landfall just before 7 p.m. local time on the Izu Peninsula southwest of the capital, with public transport suspended, shops shuttered and the streets empty.

The storm disrupted the Rugby World Cup, with two games just outside Tokyo canceled, and played havoc with the build-up to Sunday's Formula One Grand Prix in Suzuka.

For several hours, typhoon rains drenched one of the world's most densely populated urban areas, with tens of millions of people trapped indoors watching with concern as rivers filled to dangerous levels. The government sent out a series of high-level alarms telling people first to evacuate —and then just to do whatever they could to save their lives.



In the end, the storm passed Tokyo around midnight, leaving behind branches, broken umbrellas and other debris on the streets, floodwaters in parts of the capital and much of the damage still being assessed.

The worst appeared to have been avoided, but the storm was still moving north and east, bringing more rain and flooding to the prefectures of Fukushima, Miyagi and Iwate.

The city government and five other prefectures asked the country's military Ground Self-Defense Force to help with the evacuation, rescue and recovery effort on Saturday evening.

In the midst of the storm, a magnitude 5.3 earthquake struck off the coast southeast of Tokyo, shaking buildings in the capital. There were no immediate reports of damage or casualties.


Nerves were set on edge in the capital on Saturday afternoon as residents' mobile phones issued a series of siren-style alerts warning of steadily rising risks of flooding and mudslides.

Japan's Meteorological Agency (JMA) had warned the previous day that Hagibis, which means "speed" in the Philippine language Tagalog, could bring as severe rainfall as a 1958 typhoon that killed more than 1,200 people in Tokyo and elsewhere in the country.

The storm weakened as it approached Japan on Saturday but winds reached 90 mph at its center at around 8:45 p.m., with gusts up over 120 mph, making it the equivalent of a Level 1 hurricane on the U.S. Saffir - Simpson hurricane wind scale. But rather than the wind, it was the rains that drenched Japan's main island of Honshu all day that caused most concern.

The JMA moved to a Level 5 warning for heavy rainfall on Saturday afternoon for large parts of central and eastern Japan, talking of "unprecedented rainfall" in many cities, towns and villages, predicting that disasters such as landslides and floods had probably already occurred, and warning people to "take measures to protect lives."


People who had left it too late to move to shelters were advised to relocate to a higher floor or find a nearby strong building, as the JMA predicted rainfall "with a level of intensity observed only once every few decades."

Local media reports, including from the Mainichi newspaper and public broadcaster NHK, said two people had died, nine were missing and around 80 were injured.

The casualties included a man in his 50s who was killed when his car overturned in high winds in Chiba prefecture east of Tokyo on Saturday morning, and another who died after a landslide swept through six houses in the city of Tomioka. Two other people were reported missing in the same landslide, while another two were missing after a landslide in Fukushima.

Three people went missing after their car fell into a river, while another two disappeared after falling into a river and an irrigation channel respectively.

Authorities say they were forced to begin releasing water from the Shiroyama Dam west of Tokyo at 9:30 p.m., adding to fears of downstream flooding along the Sagami River running through Kanagawa prefecture to the south. Meanwhile the Tama River that separates Tokyo and Kanagawa burst its banks, flooding residential areas in the southern part of the capital.
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Public transport was severely disrupted on Saturday afternoon in and around the capital, with all flights to and from Tokyo's Narita and Haneda airports canceled, and many subway services and most trains in the Tokyo metropolitan area suspended. Another 800 flights were also cancelled on Sunday, including many from Tokyo.

Shinkansen bullet trains stopped running between Tokyo and the cities of Nagoya and services were disrupted all the way to Osaka and Okayama in eastern Japan.
Train operators said they would inspect tracks and assess any damage Sunday morning before resuming service.

Shops in and around Tokyo either remained closed on Saturday or shut their doors around noon so staff could get home to beat the approaching storm. Residents had emptied the shelves of some supermarkets the previous day as people hunkered down.