TAIPEI, Taiwan – The most powerful typhoon of the year was sweeping through the Luzon Strait today, battering island communities and drenching southern Taiwan and the northern Philippines.
Super Typhoon Usagi had maximum sustained winds of 139 mph and gusts exceeding 163 mph early today. A storm achieves super typhoon status when winds reach 150 mph.
The eye of the storm passed over the Batanes islands early today, Philippine officials said. There were no immediate reports of damage or casualties.
China’s National Meteorological Center announced a red alert, the observatory’s highest, as the storm maintained its track toward Hong Kong.
The U.S. Navy’s warning center predicted that Usagi will make landfall near Hong Kong with weaker but dangerous sustained winds of 113 mph early Monday morning.
China wants talks about North Korea
WASHINGTON – China’s foreign minister is pushing for the restart of international talks on North Korea’s nuclear program, saying that Pyongyang is ready to recommit to the goal of denuclearization.
North Korea withdrew from the aid-for-disarmament talks in 2009 and over the past year has made clear it wants to be treated as a nuclear weapons state.
But Foreign Minister Wang Yi said Friday the North has recently said it is ready to give up nuclear weapons.
Russia takes over Greenpeace ship
MOSCOW – Russian commandos armed with automatic rifles and handguns seized a Greenpeace ship and detained 30 activists who were protesting oil drilling in the Arctic, Greenpeace and Russian officials said Friday.
Activists aboard the Arctic Sunrise icebreaker ship told Greenpeace officials that about 15 troops rappelled down ropes from a combat helicopter in a surprise raid Thursday night in international waters, said Maria Favorskaya, a spokeswoman for the environmental group.
A statement published on the Russian Federal Security Service website said the Greenpeace ship was maneuvering around the Prirazlomnaya oil platform, in the Russian economic zone in the Barents Sea, and had ignored signals and warning fire from a coast guard ship.