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.

India puts 30,000 in lockdown after preacher dies of virus

A volunteer sprays disinfectant on a policeman at a street during a government-imposed nationwide lockdown in Amritsar on Saturday. (AFP)
Updated 30 March 2020

India puts 30,000 in lockdown after preacher dies of virus

  • Sikh leader ignored order to self-isolate after 16-day trip to Europe, authorities say

NEW DELHI: More than 30,000 people have been quarantined in 20 villages in the northern Indian state of Punjab after coming into contact with a Sikh religious leader who died after being infected by the coronavirus, officials said on Sunday.

Baldev Singh, 70, returned to India on March 7 after attending religious events during a 16-day trip to Italy and Germany.
After his return, he was asked to go into self-isolation, but reportedly defied the orders and is believed to have died on March 18.
Vinay Bublani, deputy commissioner of Shaheed Bhagat Singh Nagar district, told Arab News on Sunday that there was no explanation for Singh’s refusal to self-isolate.“
What I understand is that he was asymptomatic and did not show any symptoms of infection,” Bublani said.
Some media reports suggest that Singh continued to attend religious functions despite developing symptoms associated with the coronavirus.
Between March 10-12, he attended the Halla Mohallaa, in Punjab’s Anantpur Saheb district, which draws tens of thousands of people, and also visited individual houses to recite religious texts and scriptures afterwards.
Health authorities in Punjab said that the state has almost 40 confirmed coronavirus cases, with 23 of the victims reportedly infected after coming in contact with Singh.
Elsewhere in India, authorities said the number of infections is nearing 1,000 with 25 deaths reported.
The government is concentrating on virus hotspots in the country, including Punjab, following the latest developments in the state.
After his death on March 18, 19 of Singh’s close relatives tested positive for the illness, with four others reportedly infected.
“We tested hundreds of people and, later on, decided to quarantine the entire area consisting of 20 villages and with a population of more than 30,000 people.
No one isallowed to come out of their village,” Bublani said.
However, he warned that self-quarantine is proving difficult to enforce. “People don’t take it seriously. They have been defiant. That’s why the lockdown has been imposed,” he added.


• Between March 10-12, Baldev Singh attended the Halla Mohallaa, which draws tens of thousands of people.

• Health authorities in Punjab said that the state has almost 40 confirmed coronavirus cases, with 23 of the victims reportedly infected after coming in contact with Singh.

Singh’s death and his unrestricted movement have alarmed the state government, which has asked police to take “strict legal action against those violating home quarantine orders.”
Political analyst Maneesh Chibber told Arab News that authorities face an uphill task.“
In Punjab, you have many socio-religious organizations and sects, and they are powerful. They have strong political connections and cannot be held accountable for their excesses,” he said.
The state government has made it mandatory for anyone arriving from overseas in the past month to report to health officials.
On Tuesday, Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh said that “an estimated 97,000 people have arrived in Punjab since early January, while more than 30,000 have been asked to self-quarantine.”
The government also launched an app named Cova to trace residents who had returned to Punjab but not registered their entry.
Apart from providing information on the disease, the app prompts users to inform authorities about their return from an overseas trip.“
We need to do our best to track all the suspected cases so that we can contain the spread of the virus,” Bublani said.
A senior state health official, who requested anonymity since he was not authorized to speak to the media, told Arab News on Sunday that “thermal screening at airports is not enough to identify positive patients.”
The state health department is also trying to trace 144 people who returned from abroad but provided false addresses to airport authorities.