Tokyo, Sep 5 (AP/UNB) — One of Japan's busiest airports remained closed indefinitely, a day after the strongest typhoon to hit Japan in 25 years flooded a runway, toppled huge cranes, flipped cars on their side, damaged historic shrines and caused at least 11 deaths as it swept across part of Japan's main island.
Typhoon Jebi came ashore with sustained winds of 160 kilometers (100 miles) per hour, cutting a path of destruction in and around Osaka and nearby cities that bore the brunt of the storm.
A large commercial ship was washed onto a breakwater, and shipping containers were left floating in the sea. In Kyoto, the former imperial capital and a popular tourist destination, wooden shrine buildings and tall orange-red entrance gates were knocked down. Soaring trees fell at a shrine in Nara, another historic city.
More than 400,000 households in western and central Japan remained without power Wednesday, and electric utilities warned that it would take time to bring everyone back on line. Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said at least 11 people had been confirmed dead and 470 people were injured.
Some 3,000 airline passengers who had to spend the night at the offshore Kansai airport were able to leave on boats and buses under sunny skies. They were stranded after a tanker unmoored by the storm's pounding waves and wind slammed into a bridge that is the airport's only link to the mainland.
Officials could not say when the airport, a gateway for Asian tourists visiting Osaka, Kyoto and Kobe, would reopen. "Right now, we cannot say for certain when we can reopen," said Hiroshi Nishio, an executive at the Kansai Airport. "Equipment has been flooded and inspection takes time."
The closure of the main airport serving one of Japan's major business and commercial areas triggered concern about the possible impact on tourism and the economy.
"If Kansai Airport is unusable for a long time, it would have a certain impact on the regional economy as well as the Japanese economy overall, as the airport is a key trading hub for companies," MUFG Bank analyst Akira Yoshimura told NHK public television.
Flooding at the airport had largely subsided Wednesday but flight operations equipment needed to be assessed for damage, as did the crushed part of the bridge. The airport was built on artificial islands in Osaka Bay.
Passengers stranded overnight appeared relieved but exhausted after an uneasy night in the dark.
Hideko Senoo, a 51-year-old homemaker planning a family trip to India, said the terminal was hot and dark after losing power, and food at convenience stores was sold out.
"We could not use vending machines or access the wireless network to get information," she told Japan's Kyodo News service.
Miki Yamada, a 25-year-old office worker planning a trip to Thailand with her friend, told Kyodo she spent the night at an airport cafeteria. "It was a rather scary night, as we were so isolated," she said.
The Universal Studios Japan theme park in Osaka was closed for a second day Wednesday but said it would reopen Thursday.
Factories in the region, including automaker Daihatsu Motor Co., electronics giant Panasonic and beverage maker Kirin Co., were expected to resume operations Wednesday after suspending production during the typhoon, Kyodo said.
The deaths included a man in his 70s who was blown to the ground from his apartment in Osaka prefecture. Police said at least five others died elsewhere in the prefecture after being hit by flying objects or falling from their apartments. In nearby Shiga prefecture, a 71-year-old man died when a storage building collapsed on him, and a man in his 70s died after falling from a roof in Mie, officials said.
In Nishinomiya in Hyogo prefecture, about 100 cars at a seaside dealership burned after their electrical systems were shorted out by sea water, fire officials and news reports said.
London, Sep 5 (AP/UNB) — Britain deepened its diplomatic feud with Moscow on Wednesday, charging two men it says are Russian military intelligence officers with the nerve-agent poisoning of Sergei Skripal, a double agent who betrayed the service by spying for the West.
But U.K. authorities acknowledged there was little chance Russia would hand over the suspects, Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov, to face justice in Britain.
Prime Minister Theresa May said the use of a chemical weapon in the city of Salisbury, which left a British woman dead and four people, including Skripal and his daughter, seriously ill, was carried out by officers of the GRU intelligence service and almost certainly approved "at a senior level of the Russian state."
"This was not a rogue operation," she told lawmakers after police released photos of the suspects as they traveled through London and Salisbury before flying back to Moscow from Heathrow Airport on the evening of March 4, hours after the Skripals were poisoned.
Moscow strongly denies involvement in the attack, and Russian officials said they did not recognize the suspects.
Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said the names and images of Petrov and Boshirov "say nothing to us."
British prosecutors said the two were being charged in absentia with conspiracy to murder, attempted murder and use of the nerve agent Novichok.
Sue Hemming of the Crown Prosecution Service said the U.K. wouldn't ask Moscow to hand the men over because Russian law forbids extradition of its citizens. Britain has obtained domestic and European arrest warrants for the suspects, meaning they can be detained if they leave Russia for another European country.
Neil Basu, Britain's top police counterterrorism officer, conceded it was "very, very unlikely" police would be in a position to arrest them any time soon.
But, he said, "we will never give up."
Sergei Skripal, 67, is a former colonel in the GRU who was convicted in 2006 of spying for Britain and imprisoned. He was freed in a 2010 spy swap and settled in the U.K.
Skripal and his 33-year-old daughter Yulia were found unconscious on a bench in Salisbury, 90 miles (145 kilometers) southwest of London, on March 4. They spent weeks hospitalized in critical condition and are now recovering in a secret location for their own protection. A police officer, Nick Bailey, was also hospitalized.
British authorities and the international chemical weapons watchdog say the victims were exposed to Novichok, a type of military-grade nerve agent developed by the Soviet Union during the Cold War.
The poisoning ignited a diplomatic confrontation in which hundreds of envoys were expelled by both Russia and Western nations.
Six months after the chemical weapons attack rocked the quiet cathedral city, police released new details about what Basu called "one of the most complex investigations" the force had ever seen.
Police say Petrov and Boshirov, both about 40, flew from Moscow to London on Russian passports two days before the Skripals were poisoned. Basu said the passports were genuine but the names were probably aliases, and appealed to the public to help identify the men.
Police revealed that traces of Novichok were found at a hotel in London's east end where the men spent two nights.
Police didn't test the budget City Stay Hotel for Novichok until two months after the attack, but Basu said the tiny quantity of nerve agent found there did not pose a risk to other guests.
Police believe the nerve agent was smuggled to Britain in a counterfeit Nina Ricci perfume bottle and sprayed on the front door of Sergei Skripal's house.
More than three months later, the bottle was found by a local man, 48-year-old Charlie Rowley. He was hospitalized and his girlfriend Dawn Sturgess, 44, died after being exposed to the contents.
The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons confirmed Tuesday that Rowley and Sturgess were also exposed to Novichok.
Police are still trying to determine where the bottle was between the Skripal poisoning in March and its discovery by Rowley on June 27. As a result, Basu said, police weren't yet ready to lay charges in the second poisoning, though the two Russians are the prime suspects.
The case, with its chilling cloak-and-dagger details, echoes the 2006 murder of Alexander Litvinenko, a former Russian agent who died after drinking tea laced with radioactive polonium-210 at a London hotel. Britain spent years trying in vain to prosecute the prime suspects, Andrei Lugovoi and Dmitry Kovtun.
A British inquiry concluded that Litvinenko had been killed at the behest of the Russian state, probably with the knowledge of President Vladimir Putin.
Russian defense and security analyst Pavel Felgenhauer said authorization to attack the Skripals had also likely come "from the very top."
"This is a message to the Russian intelligence community and spy community that you do not sell out Putin to the West or there are going to be serious consequences," he said.
Western officials say Russia's intelligence services have grown increasingly aggressive in their overseas activities. Members of the GRU have been indicted in the U.S. for hacking the Democratic Party and Hillary Clinton's campaign during the 2016 U.S. presidential election.
May said Britain and its allies would "step up our collective efforts" against the agency, though she did not name any specific measures.
"There can be no place in any civilized international order for the kind of barbaric activity which we saw in Salisbury in March," she said.
"The Russian state needs to explain what happened in Salisbury," May added. "All we've had is obfuscation and lies."
Boston, Sep 5 (AP/UNB) — The Democratic candidate who is poised to become Massachusetts' first black congresswoman says her upset primary win feels "surreal."
Ayanna Pressley has told supporters at a rally in Boston that she's thrilled and humbled by her victory over longtime U.S. Rep. Michael Capuano.
But the 44-year-old Boston city councilor says it's "a surreal, full circle moment." She said Wednesday she ran to represent those traditionally without a voice in politics who deserve to live in communities that are safe and have good schools.
Pressley also took a swipe at President Donald Trump, saying the only way to combat "the hate coming out of this White House" is with the kind of inclusive movement she built.
Pressley cruised to victory Tuesday in a district once served by Tip O'Neill and John F. Kennedy. Minorities now comprise a majority of the district's population.
Washington, Sep 5 (AP/UNB)— Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has named veteran diplomat Zalmay Khalilzad as a special adviser on seeking reconciliation in war-battered Afghanistan.
Pompeo made the announcement on Tuesday as Khalilzad joined him on a trip to Pakistan and India. Pompeo was speaking to reporters aboard his plane.
An Afghan native, Khalilzad was tapped by President George W. Bush to be his ambassador to Afghanistan after the overthrow of the Taliban following the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. He then served as ambassador to Iraq and the United Nations.
Khalilzad is the fourth such special envoy named in the past month, following Brian Hook, who will handle Iran, James Jeffrey, who will run Syria policy, and Stephen Biegun as special representative for North Korea.
Guatemala City, Sep 5 (AP/UNB)— The head of a U.N.-backed commission probing corruption in Guatemala was barred from re-entering the country Tuesday, further defanging the investigative body days after President Jimmy Morales announced he would not renew its mandate.
In a statement, the government said Morales had communicated the decision to the U.N. secretary-general and asked him to name a replacement for Ivan Velasquez, who along with Guatemalan prosecutors has pressed a number of high-profile graft investigations including against Morales himself.
The statement called Velasquez "a person who attacks order and public security; affecting governance, institutionality, justice and peace in the country."
Velasquez told The Associated Press that he was aware of the decision but did not comment. The native of Colombia had traveled to Washington for meetings about the work of the International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala, known as CICIG for its initials in Spanish.
Within hours, four legal measures were filed with the Constitutional Court to block the decision and try to keep Velasquez from being barred from the country.
Ex-Foreign Minister Gabriel Orellana said in a radio interview that Morales was making "a serious political mistake," while Javier Hernandez, head of Morales' bloc in congress, dismissed suggestions on social media that the move was tantamount to a "coup."
"This doesn't affect (state) institutions," Hernandez said.
A diplomatic official told the AP that a group of ambassadors was holding an emergency meeting to consider their response. The person was not authorized to discuss the matter publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity.
"Yet another blatant attempt to get away with corruption and evade prosecution," U.S. Rep. Norma Torres, a Democrat from California, said via Twitter about the decision to bar Velasquez. "Sooner or later, all criminals face justice."
Morales announced last Friday that he was winding down CICIG's work in Guatemala, giving it until September 2019 when its current term expires to transfer its capacities to local institutions.
That same day, his military deployed a convoy of armed vehicles outside the commission's offices in what critics called an attempt at intimidation.
Morales' moves to gut CICIG come as he faces possible legal hot water over alleged illicit campaign financing: He is suspected of receiving at least $1 million in undeclared funds in 2015, though he denies wrongdoing.
In August the country's Supreme Court allowed congress to consider a request presented by prosecutors and the commission to lift the immunity of office he enjoys as president. If lawmakers approve the request, it would open him up to formal investigation and possible prosecution.
Morales has frequently sparred with Velasquez, and last year declared him persona non grata and tried to have him expelled from the country. That was blocked by the Constitutional Court, however.
Corruption cases brought by CICIG and Guatemalan prosecutors have ensnared dozens of public officials, politicians and business leaders. Perhaps the highest-profile probe led to the resignation and jailing of former President Otto Perez Molina and his vice president.