JAL, ANA flight groundings ahead of Typhoon Hagibis

JAL, ANA flight groundings ahead of Typhoon Hagibis

TOKYO — A powerful typhoon is forecast to bring up to 80 centimetres (about 30 inches) of rain and damaging winds to the Tokyo area and Japan’s Pacific coast this weekend.

Most stores, restaurants and other businesses in Tokyo planned to close, and residents were buying batteries, bottled water, instant noodles and other food.

All Nippon Airways and Japan Airlines grounded most domestic and international flights scheduled Saturday at the Tokyo, Osaka and Nagoya airports.

Central Japan Railway Co. said it will cancel all bullet train service between Tokyo and Osaka except for several early Saturday trains connecting Nagoya and Osaka.

Tokyo Disneyland and Disney Sea will be closed Saturday, as will museums, movie theatres and other businesses.

Meteorological Agency official Yasushi Kajihara said Typhoon Hagibis resembled a typhoon that hit the Tokyo region in 1958 with heavy rains and left a half-million houses flooded. More than 1,200 people died in that storm.

“In order to protect your own life and your loved ones, please try to start evacuating early before it gets dark and the storm becomes powerful,” Kajihara said at a news conference Friday.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s Cabinet held a disaster management meeting late Friday. He said 17,000 police and military troops are ready if needed for rescue operations.

Hagibis, which means ‘speed’ in Filipino, is heading north-northwestward with winds of 180 kilometres per hour gusting to 250 kph on Friday afternoon. It was expected to weaken as it comes around the Pacific coast of Japan’s main island on Saturday, making landfall south of Tokyo and passing out to sea by Sunday afternoon.

The meteorological agency cautioned that the typhoon could trigger waves as high as 13 metres (41 feet) in coastal cities through Saturday.

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