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.


Man killed in random knife attack at California steakhouse

Updated 22 April 2018
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Man killed in random knife attack at California steakhouse

  • The victim was dining with his family when the suspect came and stabbed him without warning
  • Police say suspect is a felon who had been convicted for burglary and unlawful sexual intercourse since the 1990s

LOS ANGELES: A homeless man who randomly stabbed a patron in a crowded Southern California restaurant to death as he was holding his daughter was reported just a few hours earlier for disruptive behavior, but police ultimately determined he was not a threat, authorities said Saturday.
Jamal Jackson, 49, is facing a first-degree murder charge in the death of 35-year-old Anthony Mele. He was being held in Ventura County jail on a $1.5 million bail. It was unclear if Jackson, who is also a convicted felon, had an attorney to speak on his behalf.
Mele and his wife were eating dinner with their 5-year-old daughter Wednesday at Aloha Steakhouse in the seaside city of Ventura. The girl was sitting on her father’s lap when prosecutors say Jackson walked up and stabbed Mele in the neck.
Prosecutor Richard Simon said customers and a restaurant employee followed Jackson out of the restaurant, even though he still had the knife. They kept track of him until Ventura police arrived and arrested him.
Mele was taken to a hospital and died Thursday after being taken off life support.
“It’s horrible,” Simon said. “You don’t think you’re going to be killed when you go out to dinner at a nice restaurant with your family and you didn’t do anything.”
Simon said the two men had not interacted before the attack.
“He was just sitting there with his daughter in his lap,” Simon said. “You’re not supposed to die that way.”
Mele’s loved ones started a GoFundMe page to help raise money for a funeral and to support his wife and daughter.
Mele’s Facebook page was filled with photos of his daughter and said he was a manager at an AT&T store.
Police confirmed that a bystander reported a man — who turned out to be Jackson — for disruptive behavior several hours before the stabbing.
According to the bystander, a man was yelling on the promenade not far from the beachside restaurant about three hours before the attack.
Patrol officers were out on other calls so command center staff monitored the man via a pier security camera system for more than 20 minutes before deciding he didn’t seem to be a threat, police said.
Police are asking anyone who spoke with Jackson during that time to contact investigators in the city 70 miles (113 kilometers) northwest of Los Angeles.
Jackson also had half a dozen contacts with police in Ventura since the beginning of the year, including an arrest after a physical fight at a park, said Commander Tom Higgins.
He was also stopped on March 31 after a passer-by reported he was brandishing a knife. Police searched his bag and found a knife but there was no victim so no charge was filed, Higgins said.
Jackson has a lengthy rap sheet including charges in San Bernardino County, Higgins said, as well as convictions for burglary and unlawful sexual intercourse dating back to the 1990s.
The killing prompted the Ventura City Council to increase police patrols in the area and add staff members to monitor security cameras, among other measures.
“We are extremely disheartened and infuriated by this criminal attack,” Mayor Neal Andrews said in a statement. “We will not tolerate this in our community. Nothing is more important than the safety of our visitors, residents and businesses.”
If convicted, Jackson faces up to 55 years in prison.