Asia will witness 21st century's longest eclipse

A travel agency in India is running a charter flight to watch the eclipse by air.

Some families have advised pregnant relatives to confine themselves to curtained rooms, following long-held fears that the invisible rays would harm the fetus and the baby born with disfigurations, birthmarks or a congenital defect.

"I've been told to lie straight on the bed with my eyes open and to chant prayers and verses from the Hindu holy texts during the eclipse," said Sonya Chadha, a New Delhi accountant who is seven months pregnant and plans to take the day off. "If even a tiny sliver of light falls on me, it could harm my child."

In Japan, where the last total eclipse happened in 1963, people are flocking to the small southern island of Yakushima, which is holding a two-day festival with fireworks, dancing, grilled squid and cotton candy. The island's 180 hotels are fully booked. A partial eclipse will be visible in Tokyo.

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