One dead as Typhoon Hagibis takes aim at Japan

Powerful Typhoon Hagibis on Saturday claimed its first victim even before making landfall, as potentially record-breaking rains and high winds sparked evacuation orders for more than 1.6 million people.

Rated “large and very strong”, the storm has also forced the cancellation of two Rugby World Cup matches, disrupted the Japanese Grand Prix and grounded more than 1,600 flights.

It is forecast to crash into land in central or eastern Japan early Saturday evening, packing maximum gusts of 216 kilometres per hour (134 miles per hour) Japan’s Meteorological Agency (JMA) said.

But hours before the worst of the storm arrived, its outer bands claimed a first casualty in Chiba, east of Tokyo, which was also badly hit by a powerful typhoon last month.

“A 49-year-old man was found in a toppled mini truck. He was sent to hospital but confirmed dead,” Hiroki Yashiro, a spokesman at Ichihara Fire Department, in Chiba, told AFP.

Hagibis is forecast to be the first storm rated “very strong” to hit the main island of Honshu since 1991, when the category system was introduced, local media said.

By midday, 1.64 million people in the affected area were under non-mandatory evacuation orders, with authorities urging the elderly, disabled and those with children to leave early.