Thousands flee Typhoon Fitow

A typhoon slammed into southeastern China on Monday with powerful winds and heavy rains that killed at least five people, cut power, canceled flights and suspended train services.

Typhoon Fitow struck Fuding city in Fujian province with winds of up to 94 mph in the early morning, then slowed before weakening to a tropical storm, the National Meteorological Center said.

More than half a million people were evacuated and fishing boats were called back to port after authorities issued a red alert — the highest warning — on Sunday as the typhoon approached.

The provincial flood relief agency in Zhejiang, which neighbors Fujian, said 574,000 people had been evacuated by Sunday evening and 35,800 vessels returned to shore. Fujian’s government said 177,000 people had been moved to safety and nearly 30,000 fishing boats called back.

The typhoon cut power in towns and counties in Zhejiang, while high-speed rail services in the region were suspended. At least 27 flights out of Wenzhou airport in Zhejiang were canceled Sunday, according to the official Xinhua News Agency.

Xinhua said two people were killed in Wenzhou, including a 55-year-old man who was blown off a hill while heading out to help rescue a stranded fisherman. It said three people were electrocuted in the Zhejiang city of Rui’an. Four other people were reported missing in the province, Xinhua said.

— Associated Press

Assad forces capture key road to Aleppo

Syrian troops wrested control of a key road linking the government-held heartland with the embattled northern city of Aleppo, reopening the crucial supply route after heavy fighting with rebels, state media and activists said Monday.

Government forces and opposition fighters have been engaged in a bloody, block-by-block fight for Aleppo since rebels launched an assault on the city, Syria’s largest, 15 months ago.

With much of the northern countryside now in the hands of the opposition, a cat-and-mouse game has emerged over the past year as the rebels try to cut government supply lines to the regime’s remaining troops in the north, particularly in Aleppo.

After the rebels cut the main north-south highway late last year, the regime of President Bashar al-Assad built a desert road to bypass contested areas. Opposition fighters responded by severing the alternative route — a winding road that runs northeast from the city of Hama — in August.

It was that desert road that regime troops reopened late Sunday, according to Syria’s state news agency and the ­Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

— Associated Press

Suspected Islamist fighters attack city in northern Mali: Suspected Islamist militants hit the northern Malian city of Gao with artillery fire on Monday, in the first attack on the insurgents’ former stronghold in months, said city residents, military and local government officials. Gao was the first city freed from Islamist occupation by a French-led military intervention that drove al Qaeda-linked fighters from the country’s north earlier this year.

French authorities drop case against Sarkozy: French magistrates abandoned a long-
running party funding investigation against former president Nicolas Sarkozy on Monday, buoying his chances of a political comeback in 2017. Sarkozy, the man most conservatives want to see lead the center-right in the 2017 presidential race, was targeted with others in a judicial inquiry into his UMP party’s ties with France’s richest woman, L’Oreal heiress Liliane Bettencourt.

Argentine president faces surgery: Argentine President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner will undergo surgery Tuesday relating to a subdural hematoma, or the accumulation of blood on the brain, her doctors said Monday. The president’s condition may be a result of her hitting her head during a fall she took in August, although she was cleared by her physicians at the time. Fernández was admitted to hospital on Monday for pre-surgical checks after reporting a tingling sensation in her left arm, said doctors at the Buenos Aires medical center where she is being treated. On Saturday, she was ordered to rest for a month because of her condition.

— From news services