Strong typhoon makes landfall near Tokyo, snarling transport

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Workers remove a fallen signboard hit by typhoon Faxai in Kamakura, Kanagawa prefecture on September 9, 2019. (AFP / JIJI PRESS)
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A truck turned over by high winds lies on a highway in Tomisato on September 9, 2019. (AFP / JIJI PRESS)
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A crowd of passengers is seen as they wait for operations of train services to resume in a snarl caused by Typhoon Faxai at Urawa station in Saitama, north of Tokyo, on September 9, 2019. (Kyodo/via REUTERS)
Updated 09 September 2019

Strong typhoon makes landfall near Tokyo, snarling transport

  • Scores of train lines were stopped, snarling the morning commute for millions in the greater Tokyo area
  • Around four to five typhoons make landfall in Japan every year, but it is unusual for them to do so near Tokyo

TOKYO: A powerful typhoon that battered Tokyo overnight with ferocious winds and driving rain caused commuter chaos on Monday morning, with trains halted and more than 100 flights cancelled.
Typhoon Faxai, packing winds of up to 216 kilometres (134 miles) 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.
Forecasters had warned of potential record wind speeds for a typhoon in the region, and non-mandatory evacuation orders were still in place at 8:00 am (2300 GMT) for nearly 340,000 people.
Authorities said more than 2,000 people had taken refuge in shelters opened to accommodate those complying with the evacuation advisories.
More than 30 people were injured in the storm, the Kyodo news agency said, including a woman who sustained serious injuries after pillars at a golf range were toppled by high winds and hit a house.
And on Sunday night, eight surfers were rescued after being swept out to sea in high waves off Shizuoka in central Japan.
Authorities said two of the surfers were sent to hospital but none of those rescued were in serious condition.




People walk through heavy rain caused by a typhoon in Tokyo on Sept. 8, 2019. (Kyodo News via AP)

The strong winds downed trees and power lines, with left 910,000 people without electricity in the Tokyo area on Monday morning, NHK said.
And at least 10 homes were damaged in Shizuoka, with windows shattered and cars flipped on their sides, local media reported.
Television footage showed a huge roof collapsing at a gasoline station in Tateyama, south of Tokyo, with pumps crushed underneath.
Elsewhere, scaffolding was torn 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 from the storm.
"We need to inspect tracks and check if there is any damage," a train company spokesman told AFP earlier.
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.
Bullet train services that were suspended during the storm were largely resumed, though some were operating on a reduced schedule. Some roads were blocked by downed trees.




Commuters line up at Shinjuku Station, waiting for train platforms to open on Sept. 9, 2019, in Tokyo. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

And at least 138 domestic flights were cancelled, with the weather even delaying the arrival of the Australian rugby team due to arrive in Tokyo Monday ahead of the World Cup that kicks off on September 20.
The French team managed to sneak in just ahead of the typhoon and reach their training camp near Mount Fuji.
However, the Wallabies squad found their preparations disrupted by Faxai's arrival.
By mid-Monday morning, the storm had moved back offshore and was headed northeast away from Japan, back into the Pacific.
The weather agency warned that landslides were still possible in China as well as the northern Fukushima region as the storm headed away from land.
Japan is used to severe tropical storms and typhoons during late summer and autumn.
Strong typhoon Krosa lashed western Japan in mid-August, bringing strong winds and torrential rain that claimed one life.
And in late August, heavy rains left three people dead when massive floods also hit western Japan.
But this year, the typhoon season coincides with the Rugby World Cup, presenting a possible headache for teams and organisers.
Tournament rules say that if a pool match has to be scrapped due to extreme weather, it is classed as a draw, which could have a major impact on what is set to be a very close competition.


UK to host ‘human challenge’ trials for COVID-19 vaccines

Updated 41 min 11 sec ago

UK to host ‘human challenge’ trials for COVID-19 vaccines

  • So-called “challenge trials” are expected to begin in January at a quarantine facility in London
  • About 2,000 participants had signed up through a US-based advocacy group, 1Day Sooner

LONDON: Britain is planning to host clinical trials where volunteers are deliberately infected with the new coronavirus to test the effectiveness of vaccine candidates, the Financial Times reported on Wednesday, citing people involved in the project.
So-called “challenge trials” are expected to begin in January at a quarantine facility in London, the report said, adding that about 2,000 participants had signed up through a US-based advocacy group, 1Day Sooner.
Britain said it was working with partners on the potential for human challenge trials without commenting on a specific plan.
“We are working with partners to understand how we might collaborate on the potential development of a COVID-19 vaccine through human challenge studies,” a government spokeswoman said.
“These discussions are part of our work to research ways of treating, limiting and hopefully preventing the virus so we can end the pandemic sooner.”
The FT reported that the studies will be government funded, although 1Day Sooner said it would also launch a petition for public funding of a biocontainment facility big enough to quarantine 100 to 200 participants.
Open Orphan, a pharmaceutical services company cited in the FT report, confirmed in a statement early on Thursday that it is in “advanced negotiation with the UK Government and other partners for a coronavirus challenge study in the UK.”
“There can be no certainty that these discussions will lead to a new contract,” it added.
Imperial College London, cited by the FT as the academic lead on the trials, did not confirm the report.
“Imperial continues to engage in a wide range of exploratory discussions relating to COVID-19 research, with a variety of partners,” a spokeswoman said, asked about the possibility of challenge trials.
Any trials conducted in the United Kingdom would have to be approved by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), the health care regulator which looks into safety and protocol.
The MHRA did not respond to Reuters’ requests for comment, but 1Day Sooner, which lobbies for challenge trials to accelerate vaccine development, welcomed the report.
“1Day Sooner congratulates the British government on their plans to conduct challenge trials to test vaccines,” it said in a statement, confirming it would petition the government to house the trial participants.
The industry has seen discussions in recent months about potentially having to inject healthy volunteers with the novel coronavirus if drugmakers struggled to find enough patients for final trials.
The FT report did not name the vaccines that would be assessed in the project. British drugmaker AstraZeneca, and French firm Sanofi both told Reuters that their vaccine candidates were not involved in the program.