Powerful typhoon pummels Tokyo

A woman cycles through a flooded area in Tokyo on Monday. Photo: AFP

TOKYO: A powerful typhoon that battered Tokyo overnight with record winds killed two people, police said yesterday, as cancelled trains caused commuter chaos and more than 100 flights were scrapped, leaving thousands stranded at the airport.

Typhoon Faxai, packing winds of up to 207 kilometres per hour, made landfall in Chiba just east of the capital before dawn, after barrelling through Tokyo Bay. The transport disruptions unleashed by the storm came less than two weeks before the start of the Rugby World Cup, and delayed the arrival of the Australian team — a reminder that Japan’s typhoon season could present challenges for organisers.

Police confirmed two people were killed in the storm — a woman in her fifties who was found dead in Tokyo and an elderly man in the neighbouring Chiba prefecture. Security camera footage showed that high winds pushed her across a street and into a wall, while the 87-year-old man was found dead in the woods under a fallen tree.

The storm injured more than 30 people, including a woman who sustained serious injuries after gusts toppled a protective netting structure at a golf driving range onto nearby houses.
Non-compulsory evacuation orders were issued to hundreds of thousands and authorities said more than 2,000 people had taken refuge in shelters at one point.

The strong winds downed trees and power lines. Nearly 760,000 households were still without electricity in the Tokyo area yesterday evening.
Scaffolding was ripped from buildings and protective sheeting hung to keep construction debris off the streets was crumpled and torn by the storm.

While the damage was relatively light given the wind speeds, it was enough to cause chaos in the capital’s notoriously busy morning commute. The overland East Japan Railway train system was largely halted in the early hours of operation while tracks were checked for fallen trees and other debris.

The storm also caused delays and stoppages on subway lines, leading to massive crowds at some stations in the busy metropolitan area that is home to 36 million people.