- Magnitude 5.7 earthquake struck in Japan ahead of the Typhoon Hagibis making landfall on Honshu island
- Heavy downpours and strong winds pounded the capital as the typhoon hit the south coast today
- Around 7.3 million people have been told to evacuate as two were killed and more than 30 were injured
- Japan Meteorological Agency said to ‘take all measures necessary to save lives’ and more rain is forecast
- More than 180,000 people are without power and 20 inches of rain is forecast for Tokyo area in next 24 hours
Seven million people have been told to evacuate in Japan as a typhoon forecast to be the nation’s most powerful in six decades made landfall on Honshu island.
Around 7.3 million people were placed under non-compulsory evacuation orders and more than 30 were injured after Typhoon Hagibis hit the south coast on Saturday.
Even before making landfall, Hagibis caused enormous disruption, forcing the cancellation of two Rugby World Cup matches, delaying the Japanese Grand Prix and grounding all flights in the Tokyo region.
It crashed into Japan’s main Honshu island at 7pm before barrelling into Izu, a peninsula southwest of Tokyo, the Japan Meteorological Agency said.
‘Be ready for rainfall of the kind that you have never experienced,’ said meteorological agency official Yasushi Kajihara, adding that areas usually safe from disasters may prove vulnerable.
‘Take all measures necessary to save your life,’ he said.
The storm claimed the first of two victims hours before arriving on the coast, when strong winds from its outer bands flipped a car in Chiba east of Tokyo and killed the driver.
But it was Hagibis’ torrential rain that prompted the JMA to issue its highest-level emergency warning for parts of Tokyo and the surrounding areas, warning of disaster.
‘Unprecedented heavy rain has been seen in cities, towns and villages for which the emergency warning was issued,’ JMA forecaster Yasushi Kajiwara said.
‘The possibility is extremely high that disasters such as landslides and floods have already occurred. It is important to take action that can help save your lives.’
At least two landslides have already been confirmed across Japan, with a man in his sixties killed in Gunma north of Tokyo.
By early evening, tens of thousands were in shelters and receiving emergency rations and blankets, though a 5.7-magnitude quake that rattled the Tokyo area did little to calm nerves.
The US Geological Survey said the earthquake was centered in the ocean off the coast of Chiba, near Tokyo, and was fairly deep at 59.5 kilometers.
Among the evacuees were people whose homes were damaged by a powerful typhoon that hit the region last month.
‘I evacuated because my roof was ripped off by the other typhoon and rain came in. I’m so worried about my house,’ a 93-year-old man said, as he sheltered at a centre in Tateyama in Chiba east of Tokyo.
In Yokohama, outside of Tokyo, others hunkered down in their homes despite the storm.
‘I’m 77 and I’ve never seen anything like this,’ Hidetsugu Nishimura said.
‘We can hear an infernal din from the rain and the wind, and a fragment of the roof has gone. For an hour, the house was shaking from wind and rain.’
Before the heavy downpours and strong winds pounded Tokyo and the surrounding areas, residents captured pictures of the bright pink and purple sky.
The eerie phenomenon, which often precedes or follows a major storm, is the result of ‘scattering’.
This happens when molecules and small particles in the atmosphere influence the direction of light, causing the light to scatter.
Heavy storms wash away the larger particles which have absorbed more light and scattered wavelengths more evenly. This makes the colours of the sky appear more vivid.
Even in the hours before the storm neared land, its outer bands brought tornado-like gusts of wind to Chiba, east of Tokyo, where one home was destroyed and several damaged.
Five people including a three-year-old boy were sent to hospital, but none suffered serious injuries, the local fire department said.
In Gotemba, west of Tokyo, emergency services said they had rescued one man who fell into a swollen canal but was still searching for a second man.
The JMA has forecast 20 inches of rain for the Tokyo area in the 24 hours to midday on Sunday, with more for the central Tokai region, but many rivers were already close to breaching their banks by Saturday afternoon.