TOKYO, Oct. 11 (Xinhua) -- A powerful typhoon is expected to hit Tokyo and wide swathes of eastern Japan this weekend, the weather agency here said Friday.
According to the Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA), Typhoon Hagibis, the 19th and likely most powerful typhoon of the season, is expected to make landfall by Saturday evening.
Yasushi Kajihara, an official at the JMA said, "The typhoon may make landfall in the Tokai or Kanto region on Saturday, and to remain extremely strong. In addition to storm winds and high waves, we're looking at the possibility of record rainfall around the Kanto region."
With rain already lashing the capital Friday evening, the weather agency said that after making landfall, Hagibis, described by Japan's public broadcaster NHK as possibly being, "on par with a typhoon that killed more than 1,200 people in the Kanto region and Izu archipelago in 1958," is expected to track past east of Japan's northernmost prefecture of Hokkaido on Sunday afternoon.
The typhoon was traveling north-northwestward at a speed of 25 kph, and was located around 550 kilometers south-southwest of Hachijo Island in the Pacific, added the JMA.
Hagibis has an atmospheric pressure of 925 hectopascals at its center and is packing winds of up to 252 kph, the agency said.
The JMA has warned the typhoon could cause severe damage in the Tokai area in central Japan, and the Kanto-Koshin region, which includes Tokyo, on Saturday, with gusts of up to 216 kph, strong enough to cause houses to collapse.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has instructed his Cabinet members to make all out efforts to mitigate the disaster.
"The government will work as one to prepare for the approach of the typhoon," minister for disaster risk reduction Ryota Takeda said.
He also urged people to evacuate at an early juncture where possible and make sure that enough food and water is stockpiled until the typhoon passes.
On Friday evening in Tokyo, supermarkets were a hive of activity as customers filled baskets with essentials, quickly stripping shelves of bread and canned products, fruit, as well as bottles of water.
Transportation networks will also be severely disrupted, their operators said Friday, with Shinkansen bullet trains between Tokyo and Nagoya will be cancelled throughout Saturday.
Services have been reduced to just six runs between Nagoya and Shin-Osaka on Saturday, and those between Shin-Osaka and Okayama will be cancelled from Saturday afternoon.
Trains in the Tokyo metropolitan area will also be suspended on Saturday, including the Tohoku and Hokuriku bullet train services, with the majority of private companies in the capital also halting their operations.
All Nippon Airways has said that all its domestic flights using Tokyo's Haneda and Narita airports would be cancelled on Saturday, while Japan Airlines Co. has taken similar measures, the carrier said.