2 dead as typhoon brings heavy rain, wind to election-day Japan

A woman cycles past at election posters nearby a polling station as Typhoon Lan approaches Japan’s mainland, in Tokyo, Japan on October 22, 2017. (REUTERS)
Updated 22 October 2017
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2 dead as typhoon brings heavy rain, wind to election-day Japan

TOKYO: A powerful typhoon barrelled toward Japan on Sunday, leaving two dead and more than 10 injured, as millions struggled to the polls for a national election.
Authorities advised thousands living in coastal areas or near rivers to evacuate to shelters as Typhoon Lan, described as “very large and very strong,” dumped torrential rain over much of the country.
According to Japan’s meteorological agency, the storm packed gusts up to 216 kilometers (134 miles) per hour Sunday night in the Pacific south of Japan and may hit Tokyo and surrounding regions early Monday.
The typhoon claimed its first victims as a male passer-by died when scaffolding collapsed on him at a construction site in Fukuoka, western Japan, public broadcaster NHK said.
And a 70-year-old man was found dead after he dived into the sea to grab a rope from another vessel as he attempted to escape from his troubled boat, a coast guard told AFP.
At least 11 people were injured across the nation, NHK said.
Strong winds forced airline companies to ground more than 500 flights, while some train and ferry services in western Japan were canceled, local media said.
Television footage showed rescuers tugging a rubber boat carrying an elderly woman in a residential area in Chiba southeast of Tokyo as a flooded river engulfed the area.
Toyota Motor said it would suspend operations at all domestic plants on Monday.
Earlier in the day, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe ordered his minister in charge of disasters to be ready to mobilize rescue and evacuation forces, including troops.
“In order to protect people’s lives, the Abe cabinet will unite and do its best to provide an emergency response to a disaster,” he told reporters.
Sever local governments in Osaka and other prefectures issued evacuation adviseries, urging thousands of residents living near the coast, rivers and hillsides to move to shelters.
The weather agency separately warned of high waves, landslides and floods in central and western Japan.
Voters in the capital braved torrential rain and driving wind on election day, as opinion polls indicate Abe is on course for a comfortable win.
Voting was delayed by some 20 minutes in Kochi in western Japan when landslides blocked a road, while several polling stations closed earlier than scheduled.
Ferries to a remote island in the west were canceled due to high waves, forcing election officials to suspend the counting of votes there.
On Saturday voters on remote southern islands in the path of the storm had cast their ballots early, heeding a call from Abe.


Afghan polls delayed in Kandahar after police chief’s killing

Updated 22 min ago
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Afghan polls delayed in Kandahar after police chief’s killing

  • Government deploys troops in the province to ensure security
  • Elections have faced several delays due to a power struggle within the government

KABUL – Afghanistan’s government on Friday said it was postponing the parliamentary elections and deploying troops in the Kandahar province to quell any attempts at unrest, after two top commanders were killed by the Taliban a day earlier, officials said. 
In a statement released early on Friday, the presidential palace said that the decision to delay the polls on Saturday were made “at the request of the people of Kandahar” and in keeping with the suggestion by the government-appointed election commission. The elections have experienced several delays in the past three years because of an ongoing power struggle within the government.
The move follows an attack on Thursday where the bodyguard of Kandahar’s governor killed the province’s police chief, General Abdul Raziq, and the head of intelligence as the two were walking with US’ top military commander for Afghanistan, General Scott Miller, after a security meeting.
The event has created a military and political vacuum in Kandahar — the birthplace of the Taliban — and is seen as a major blow for the shaky central government. The militant group claimed responsibility for the attack, which saw General Miller escaping unhurt, while two US soldiers, a foreign contractor, Kandahar’s governor, Zalmai Weesa, the province’s army chief and another top police commander were wounded in the incident.
The Taliban said that the assailant was the group’s supporter, adding that they had intended to target General Miller and General Raziq — a top anti-Taliban commander.