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Typhoon Oscar Biggest To Hit Japanese Islands Since Wwii Forecasters Say Tokyo May Avoid Full Force Of Storm

The most powerful storm to hit Japan since World War II churned north along the nation’s eastern islands Sunday, buffeting them with heavy rain and 110-mph winds.

There were no immediate reports of serious injuries.

Forecasters said Tokyo, initially said to be in Typhoon Oscar’s direct path, might escape its full force. But the Central Meteorological Agency warned of typhoon conditions and said Tokyo could receive up to 12 inches of rain between Saturday night and Monday morning.

In central Japan, pedestrians exposed to driving rain struggled to stand as the wind collapsed umbrellas and whipped up waves in coastal areas.

Police said several major freeways were shut down in the Tokyo area, and dozens of domestic flights and sea ferries were canceled. Storm and flood warnings were issued across most of Japan’s eastern coastal and central areas.

As the typhoon’s center moved north, the most powerful area near its center touched coastal areas southeast of Tokyo.

No major damage was reported overnight, police said. But officials warned the northern half of the country to brace for the worst of the storm, expected over the next 12 hours.

Early Sunday, the hardest-hit areas were islands in the Pacific south of Tokyo. Television footage late Saturday from Hachijo Island, about 150 miles south of Tokyo, showed a motorcyclist struggling to drive through water up to his waist and shopkeepers sweeping water from their stores.

In the Tokyo area, seven major train lines and subways reduced service Sunday morning, East Japan Railways said.

At 6 a.m. Sunday, Oscar was centered almost directly over Aoga Island, 225 miles south of Tokyo. It was moving north-northeast at 21 miles per hour.

Some meteorologists are calling Oscar a “supertyphoon,” saying it is the largest and most powerful to strike the region in a half-century.

Oscar is roughly as large and more powerful than the Ise Bay Typhoon of 1959, which left more than 5,000 people dead or missing, the agency said.

Another major storm, the Konogawa Typhoon of 1958, left 1,269 people dead or missing.

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