Strong typhoon makes landfall near Tokyo, snarling transport

1 / 3
Workers remove a fallen signboard hit by typhoon Faxai in Kamakura, Kanagawa prefecture on September 9, 2019. (AFP / JIJI PRESS)
2 / 3
A truck turned over by high winds lies on a highway in Tomisato on September 9, 2019. (AFP / JIJI PRESS)
3 / 3
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.


China reports 1,886 new virus cases, death toll up by 98

A woman, wearing a protective facemask amid fears over the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus, walks in front of an advertisement board in Bangkok on February 17, 2020 featuring attractions in Thailand. (AFP)
Updated 55 min 45 sec ago

China reports 1,886 new virus cases, death toll up by 98

  • Hundreds more have been infected and the virus has sparked panic buying, economic jitters as well as the cancellation of high-profile sporting and cultural events

BEIJING: Mainland China reported 1,886 new virus cases and 98 more deaths for a total of 1,868 in its update Tuesday, following a report that 80% of cases have been mild, prompting guarded optimism from health officials.
The latest figures come after health officials in China published the first details on nearly 45,000 cases of infection with the coronavirus that originated there, saying more than 80% have been mild and new ones seem to be falling since early this month.
A total of 72,436 cases have been reported in mainland China as of Tuesday, although a spike in recent cases was due to a broader definition in the hardest-hit region based on doctors’ diagnoses before laboratory tests were completed.
Monday’s report from the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention gives the World Health Organization a “clearer picture of the outbreak, how it’s developing and where it’s headed,” WHO’s director-general said at a news conference.
“It’s too early to tell if this reported decline will continue. Every scenario is still on the table,” Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said.
China may postpone its annual congress in March, its biggest political meeting of the year, to avoid travel while the disease is still spreading. The standing committee for the National People’s Congress will meet Feb. 24 to deliberate on a postponement of the meeting due to start March 5.
The new disease, called COVID-19, first emerged in December in Wuhan, the capital of central China’s Hubei province, and has spread to more than two dozen other countries.
The new study reports on 44,672 cases confirmed in China as of Feb. 11. The virus caused severe symptoms such as pneumonia in 14% of them and critical illness in 5%.
The fatality rate for these confirmed cases is 2.3% — 2.8% for males versus 1.7% for females.
That’s lower than for SARS and MERS, which are caused by two similar viruses, but COVID-19 ultimately could prove more deadly if it spreads to far more people than the others did. Ordinary flu has a fatality rate of 0.1% yet kills hundreds of thousands because it infects millions each year.
The COVID-19 cases include relatively few children, and the risk of death rises with age. It’s higher among those with other health problems — more than 10% for those with heart disease, for example, and higher among those in Hubei province versus elsewhere in China.
Cases seem to have been declining since Feb. 1, but that could change as people return to work and school after the Chinese holidays, the report warns. Beijing has sought to forestall that by extending the Lunar New Year holiday, imposing tight travel restrictions and demanding 14 days off self-quarantine for anyone returning from outside their immediate region.
Hundreds of cases have been confirmed outside China, with a significant number on a cruise ship quarantined at a port near Tokyo.
Japanese officials on Monday confirmed 99 more people were infected on the Diamond Princess, bringing the total to 454. The Health Ministry said it has now tested 1,723 people on the ship, which had about 3,700 passengers and crew aboard. Outside China, the ship has the largest number of cases of COVID-19.
Japan has 518 confirmed cases, including the 454 from the cruise ship, and one death from the virus.
The US evacuated 328 American passengers, with most of them now in a 14-day quarantine at military bases in California and Texas. Fourteen of them have the virus and were taken to hospitals in California and Nebraska.
Any quarantined passengers who shows symptoms of the virus will be taken to a hospital off the base “for containment and specialized care,” according to a statement from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention spokesman Scott Pauley. The CDC rather than the Department of Defense is responsible for all parts of the quarantine operation.