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TOKYO — Typhoon Hagibis made landfall in Japan around 7 p.m. local time on Saturday, after its outer bands had lashed the country’s eastern coast with heavy rains most of the day and residents had moved to evacuation centers.
Before it landed, the storm had brought landslides, record rainfall and flooding and violent winds. An earthquake measuring 5.7 magnitude also shook Chiba, east of Tokyo, early Saturday evening.
One death had been reported in a cyclone in Chiba. And Japan’s public broadcaster NHK reported that another man died after a landslide crushed his home in Tomioka City in Gunma Prefecture. Landslides were also reported in Sagamihara, a suburb outside Tokyo, as well as in Shizuoka.
The storm made landfall Saturday evening in Ito, a resort town on the Izu Peninsula southwest of Tokyo.
The Japan Meteorological Agency said Saturday afternoon that sustained winds from the typhoon had been measured at about 100 miles per hour, with gusts of up to 135 miles per hour, the third-strongest category.
By Saturday night, Japan’s public broadcaster NHK reported that local governments had ordered 2.8 million people to evacuate their homes. Those included 432,000 people who had been advised to evacuate in the Edogawa ward of Tokyo because of fears of heavy flooding. In Kawasaki City, outside Tokyo, more than 900,000 people had been urged to evacuate, according to NHK.
Tokyo Electric Power Company said that more than 211,000 households were without power across Tokyo and Shizuoka.
Record-setting rain and dangerous water levels
The Japan Meteorological Agency has issued a rare, highest-level warning of extreme rain in 12 prefectures including Saitama and Shizuoka, urging residents to evacuate or move to higher floors in the “nearest sturdy building” in order to protect against “imminent danger.”
In a first for central Tokyo, two wards received torrential rainfall warnings.
Water levels in close to 30 rivers, in prefectures including Tokyo, Kanagawa, Gunma and Shizuoka, had already exceeded levels considered dangerous by the meteorological agency. The central government’s land ministry ordered several dams to release water after rivers swelled with the record-setting rain.
NHK reported that Hakone, a popular tourist destination in the mountains west of Tokyo, received more than 35 inches of rain in just 24 hours, the most for a single day since records started in 1974.
The weather agency said the southeastern Tokai region could receive as much as 31 inches of rain in a 24-hour period.
A nation takes refuge
Hundreds of flights were canceled in anticipation of Hagibis, including all of All Nippon Airways’ domestic and international flights from airports in the Tokyo area on Saturday. Japan Railways suspended service in the Tokyo region on Saturday, as well as bullet train service between Tokyo and Osaka.
With the storm bearing down, Rugby World Cup organizers for the first time canceled two matches in Japan. Tourist attractions in Tokyo, including the Disneyland and DisneySea theme parks and the Ueno Zoo, closed on Saturday, as did hundreds of supermarkets and department stores in the city and nearby prefectures.
Warnings from authorities and experts
As Hagibis approached this week — at one point the equivalent of a Category 5 hurricane, with 160 m.p.h. winds — the Japanese authorities prepared for disruptions in the lives of millions. About 1.5 million people live below sea level in eastern parts of Tokyo, and meteorologists warned that as many as five million people might need to be evacuated if waters overwhelmed the levees in low-lying areas.
On Friday, the Japan Meteorological Agency warned that Hagibis could rival the Kanogawa typhoon of 1958, which killed more than 1,200 people in Shizuoka Prefecture and the Tokyo region.
On the same day, the secretary general of the World Meteorological Organization warned that tropical cyclones like Typhoon Hagibis were “among the most devastating of all natural hazards.”
Speaking at a meeting with Japanese officials, the secretary general, Petteri Taalas, said that since 1970, seven of the 10 disasters that caused the biggest economic losses around the world had been tropical cyclones. “They wreak havoc with their violent winds, torrential rainfall and associated storm surges and floods,” he said.
This week, Jeff Masters, a meteorologist with the magazine Scientific American, warned that a direct hit on Tokyo Bay could be “a multibillion dollar disaster.” Last year, Typhoon Jebi, the worst typhoon in 25 years, killed 11 people, injured hundreds and caused an estimated $12.6 billion in damage.
Reporting was contributed by Eimi Yamamitsu and Makiko Inoue from Chiba, Japan; Hisako Ueno from Okayama, Japan; and Alan Yuhas from New York.