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Japan on highest alert as huge Typhoon Hagibis smashes into Tokyo area

A residential area in Tokyo's Setagaya ward is submerged on Oct. 12, 2019, as Typhoon Hagibis makes landfall in eastern Japan. (Kyodo)
The Tama River in Tokyo is swollen on Oct. 12, 2019, ahead of the arrival of Typhoon Hagibis. (Kyodo)
A house is damaged by strong winds in Ichihara near Tokyo on Oct. 12, 2019, ahead of the arrival of Typhoon Hagibis. (Kyodo)
A residential area in Ise, Mie Prefecture, central Japan, is flooded on Oct. 12, 2019, ahead of the arrival of Typhoon Hagibis. (Kyodo)
The predicted path of Typhoon Hagibis as of 10 p.m. on Oct. 12, 2019. (Image from the Japan Meteorological Agency website)
Surging waves hit against a breakwater as Typhoon Hagibis approaches, at a port in Kumano, Mie Prefecture, on Saturday, Oct. 12, 2019. (AP Photo/Toru Hanai)

TOKYO (Kyodo) -- A massive typhoon, bringing potentially the heaviest downpours in six decades, made landfall on Japan's main island of Honshu on Saturday evening, while the country remains at its highest alert level after an unprecedented emergency warning was issued for Tokyo and nearby regions.

The weather agency issued an emergency warning over Typhoon Hagibis ahead of it making landfall on the Izu Peninsula around 7 p.m., saying heavy rain "with a level of intensity observed only once every few decades" is predicted in Tokyo and the prefectures of Gunma, Saitama, Kanagawa, Yamanashi, Nagano and Shizuoka.

The typhoon threatened to sweep through Tokyo, with train operators suspending most services and airports shut down in the metropolitan and surrounding areas, while over 6 million people across the main island were advised to evacuate.

Typhoon Hagibis, meaning "swift" in the Philippine language Tagalog, could dump amounts of rain not seen since a deadly typhoon in 1958, the Japan Meteorological Agency said.

It is the first time the agency has issued the warning, the highest on a one-to-five scale, for Tokyo and the six prefectures.

The agency later expanded the coverage of the heavy rain warning to five other prefectures -- Miyagi, Fukushima, Ibaraki, Tochigi and Niigata.

Japanese authorities warned that the typhoon is causing water levels in a number of rivers, including the Tama and the Arakawa in the metropolitan area, to rise dangerously.

At least five rivers including those in Tokyo's Hachioji and Ome overflowed, according to local governments.

"I've never experienced this kind of thing. I don't know what to do," 84-year-old Mitsue Ota said at a gymnasium in Hachioji where she was taking shelter after moving from her home near a river in the city. "I'm worried about the river's water levels."

The projected path of the typhoon may result in further damage to areas in Chiba Prefecture near Tokyo where another powerful typhoon destroyed houses and triggered widespread power outages in September.

Chiba's prefectural government said a tornado hit part of Ichihara and destroyed 12 houses and damaged over 70 others.

Local officials said a man in his 50s was found dead in an overturned car, as the tornado likely caused his vehicle to roll over.

In Gunma, a man died after being hit by a landslide, police said.

At least 70 people were injured across the country, while three people went missing, according to a Kyodo News tally based on information provided by rescuers and other authorities.

As of 8 p.m., the typhoon had an atmospheric pressure of 960 hectopascals at its center and was packing winds of up to 198 kilometers per hour.

The agency downgraded Typhoon Hagibis' intensity to "powerful" from "very powerful" around 6 p.m.

It is forecast to bring winds of 216 kph to the Tokai region in central Japan and the Kanto-Koshin region, including the Tokyo metropolitan area, and could potentially knock down houses, the agency had warned.

Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc. said as many as 770,000 homes were without power at one time in Chiba Prefecture.

Up to 1,000 millimeters of rain was expected in the Tokai region, and 600 mm in the Kanto-Koshin region, in the 24-hour period through midnight Saturday, the agency said.

Tokyo's Haneda airport, as well as Narita airport near the capital, were shut down.

There was no shinkansen bullet train service between Tokyo and Nagoya on Saturday. Just six early morning trains ran between Nagoya and Shin-Osaka, and operations between Shin-Osaka and Okayama were canceled from the afternoon.

Central Japan Railway Co. said train services on its Tokaido Shinkansen Line, departing from or arriving at Tokyo, are likely to be suspended on Sunday morning.

Meanwhile, West Japan Railway Co. said it is aiming to resume bullet train services between Shin-Osaka and Hakata on Sunday.

East Japan Railway Co. said it gradually suspended train runs in the Tokyo metropolitan area from Saturday morning and halted services around 1 p.m., including its Tohoku and Hokuriku shinkansen services.

Many stores in and around Tokyo were closed, or shelves were empty as people stocked up on food, water and other necessities.

Among manufacturers, Toyota Motor Corp. and Honda Motor Co. suspended operations at some of their plants Saturday.

According to the weather agency, the predicted rainfall amounts would be in line with those deposited by Typhoon Ida in September 1958, which left 1,200 people dead or missing across Japan.

That typhoon, known as Kanogawa in Japan, ripped through the Kanto region and the Izu Peninsula, causing the Kano River in Shizuoka Prefecture to overflow.

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