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Typhoon Hagibis Could Match Fury of 1958 Storm That Killed 1,200 in Japan


KYONAN, Japan — Typhoon Hagibis swirled toward Japan on Friday, as cities across the country opened evacuation centers and forecasters issued extreme weather warnings for several prefectures along the country’s eastern coast.

The Japan Meteorological Agency said Friday afternoon on its website that the typhoon was just over 200 miles off the eastern coast of central Japan, with winds of more than 110 miles per hour at its center. The agency said the storm was expected to make landfall late Friday or early Saturday. At a news conference Friday morning, the agency warned that Hagibis could be as strong as the Kanogawa Typhoon that killed more than 1,200 people when it hit Shizuoka Prefecture and the Tokyo region in 1958.

The agency said the southeastern Tokai region could receive as much as 31 inches of rain in a 24-hour period.

Japan Railways said it would suspend service throughout the Tokyo region all day Saturday and that bullet train service between Tokyo and Osaka and between Osaka and Fukuoka, on the island of Kyushu, would be suspended from Saturday morning.

All Nippon Airways canceled all its domestic and international flights from airports in the Tokyo area on Saturday, and Japan Airlines said it would cancel flights from multiple airports throughout the country including those serving Tokyo, Osaka and Sendai.

On Friday, the public broadcaster NHK reported that 33,100 households were already without power in the greater Tokyo region.

The Disneyland and DisneySea theme parks in Tokyo were scheduled to be closed on Saturday, the first such closure for a typhoon, and the Tokyo Metropolitan Government said it would close attractions like Ueno Zoo and Hamarikyu Gardens. Several supermarket chains and department stores said hundreds of outlets across Tokyo and surrounding prefectures would also be closed.

In Chiba Prefecture, where a typhoon last month caused severe damage, several municipalities opened evacuation centers. As of Friday evening, more than 2,025 people had sought cover, including 44 people who left their homes last month during Typhoon Faxai.

About 90 people sought shelter Friday afternoon at Kyonan Elementary School in Chiba. People spread beige blankets on the gym floor with backpacks carrying a few belongings and food for the evening, talking quietly.

Norio Fukuhara, the education division chief of the Kyonan town office, said that he had expected about 30 people to show up.

“I think people really have a sense of crisis,” Mr. Fukuhara said. “After the last typhoon, that’s natural. We hadn’t had such an experience before. We used to say, ‘Oh, a typhoon is coming. That’s dangerous,’ and that was all.”

About 40 people arrived at a temple in the nearby Ryushima neighborhood to wait out the storm.

Saburo Anzai, 91, and his wife, Chihyo, also 91, bent over canes as they walked into a tatami room. The room was already crowded, and they asked for chairs. “We just finished repairing our house a couple of days ago,” Mrs. Anzai said. “Our neighbors are concerned about us.”

The central government said it would dispatch officials and power supply vehicles from disaster assistance agencies to the area.

Experts said that Chiba, where about 900,000 people lost power in September, would be particularly vulnerable as it had not yet recovered from Typhoon Faxai, and many buildings that were partly damaged during that storm could be destroyed this time.

“Residents need to make early decisions to evacuate,” said Hiroyuki Yamada, an associate professor of meteorology at the University of the Ryukyus in Okinawa. “The buildings are already damaged and may collapse even with weaker winds.”

At Kyonan Elementary School, Isamu Matsuyama, 87, a retired farmer, said it was rare that residents were forced to evacuate because of typhoons. But just a month after another storm ripped roof tiles from his home, destroyed the second floor and left mold growing in most of the rooms, Mr. Matsuyama found himself heading for shelter with his wife and daughter.

He said that he and his daughter had been fixing the roof earlier Friday, and he had been reluctant to leave.

“I’m just so, so tired of typhoons,” he said.

Makiko Inoue and Eimi Yamamitsu reported from Kyonan, and Motoko Rich from Tokyo. Hisako Ueno contributed reporting from Okayama, Japan.


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