TOKYO: Typhoon Faxai, upgraded to a “very strong” storm with potentially record winds and rain, battered the Tokyo region late on 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 megacity in the early hours of Monday.
Authorities issued non-compulsory evacuation warnings to more than 110,000 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 8am.
“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 said.
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 said.
“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 10pm on Sunday, 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.
Published in Dawn, September 9th, 2019