TOKYO (AFP) – Japan was on Friday bracing for powerful Typhoon Vongfong, with the monster storm expected to slam into the archipelago as early as the weekend.
Packing gusts of up to 252 kilometres per hour, the typhoon was churning toward the southern Okinawa island chain at a speed of 10 kilometres per hour, the Japan Meteorological Agency said.
The Joint Typhoon Warning Center has downgraded the storm from a supertyphoon, as powerful as Haiyan, which ripped through the Philippines in 2013, but Japanese officials said it remained “large and very strong”.
Haiyan left nearly 8,000 people dead or missing with gusts of around 300 kilometres per hour, generating giant waves that swamped coastal communities.
Vongfong was on course to hit islands north of Okinawa before making landfall on the southernmost main island of Kyushu on Monday.
Satellite images of Vongfong show a perfectly formed eye in the middle of a gigantic swirling disc of cloud that appears to be sucking up weather systems from across the Tropics.