Taiwan orders markets, schools closed as strong typhoon approaches

Chinese state media said the storm was likely to make landfall in the eastern province of Zhejiang on Tuesday afternoon. (AP)
Updated 30 September 2019

Taiwan orders markets, schools closed as strong typhoon approaches

  • More than 150 flights and ferry services were canceled, while several highways across the island were shut amid fears of landslides and floods
  • The government has ordered provincial authorities to make preparations for the typhoon

YILAN, Taiwan: Taiwan shut down its financial markets and ordered schools closed on Monday as a typhoon approached its northeastern coast, while airlines canceled more than 150 flights amid warnings of floods and high winds.

Typhoon Mitag, categorized by Taiwan’s weather bureau as at the second-strongest typhoon level, was expected to approach the coast of Yilan county with maximum winds of 162 kmph (100 mph) on Monday night.

It was moving across the ocean in a north-northwesterly direction at 25 kmph (15 mph), weather officials said, and could gain strength as it approaches the island.

The bureau issued wind and rain warnings for greater Taipei, the northern port city of Keelung, and other northern counties. It also put out a warning to seafarers around Taiwan.

About 12,000 soldiers were on standby amid fears of floods and storm surge. “The national army and authorities are on all out alert. Friends in the affected areas please make preparations for the typhoon and stay indoor as much as possible,” President Tsai Ing-wen wrote on Facebook.

More than 150 flights and ferry services were canceled, while several highways across the island were shut amid fears of landslides and floods. The storm cut power to about 2,700 houses on Monday morning.

After passing over Taiwan, the typhoon was expected to approach China’s eastern city of Shanghai on Tuesday, forecasts showed.

Chinese state media said the storm was likely to make landfall in the eastern province of Zhejiang on Tuesday afternoon, or closely skirt its coastline, bringing heavy rain to both Zhejiang and neighboring Fujian provinces.

The government has ordered provincial authorities to make preparations for the typhoon, especially in areas prone to landslides, the official China News Agency reported. Both provinces are very mountainous.

The timing is particularly bad for China as Tuesday marks the start of the week-long National Day holiday, one of China’s two “golden week” vacations, when tourist spots around the country heave with visitors.


IAEA urges Iran to explain uranium particles at undeclared site

Updated 21 November 2019

IAEA urges Iran to explain uranium particles at undeclared site

  • IAEA said in a report last week that its inspectors had "detected natural uranium particles of anthropogenic origin at a location in Iran

VIENNA: The UN nuclear watchdog on Thursday urged Iran to explain the presence of uranium particles at an undeclared site, as a landmark deal aimed at curbing Tehran's atomic activities threatens to collapse.
The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said in a report made public last week that its inspectors had "detected natural uranium particles of anthropogenic origin at a location in Iran not declared to the agency".
The agency's acting head Cornel Feruta said IAEA and Iranian officials would meet in Tehran next week to discuss the matter, adding that the UN body had not received any additional information.
"The matter remains unresolved... It is essential that Iran works with the agency to resolve this matter promptly," he told IAEA member states at a meeting of the agency's board of governors.
A diplomatic source told AFP that the IAEA would send a high-ranking technical delegation to Iran next week.
The particles are understood to be the product of uranium which has been mined and undergone initial processing, but not enriched.
While the IAEA has not named the site in question, diplomatic sources have previously said the agency asked Iran about a site in the Turquzabad district of Tehran where Israel has alleged secret atomic activity in the past.
Sources say the IAEA took samples from the site in the spring and that Iran has been slow in providing answers to explain the test results.
The 2015 deal between Iran and world powers has been faltering since last year when the United States pulled out and started to reinstate punishing sanctions on Tehran, leaving the other signatories struggling to salvage the agreement.
Over the past few months, Iran has breached several parts of the deal it signed with the US as well as Britain, China, France, Germany and Russia, in which it committed to scaling back its nuclear programme in exchange for sanctions relief.
But Britain, France and Germany have said they are extremely concerned by Iran's actions in stepping up its uranium enrichment and other breaches.
Enrichment is the process that produces fuel for nuclear power plants but also, in highly extended form, the fissile core for a warhead.
On Monday, the IAEA confirmed Iran's stock of heavy water for reactors has surpassed the 130-tonne limit set under the agreement.
Heavy water is not itself radioactive but is used in nuclear reactors to absorb neutrons from nuclear fission.
Heavy water reactors can be used to produce plutonium for nuclear weapons as an alternative to enriched uranium.
The IAEA has also said one of its inspectors was briefly prevented from leaving Iran, calling her treatment "not acceptable".
Iran has cancelled the inspector's accreditation, saying she triggered a security check at the entrance gate to the Natanz enrichment plant last month.
The IAEA has disputed the Iranian account of the incident, without going into details.