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Tuesday, Oct 14, 2014

Asia

Astronaut tweets stunning picture of second typhoon to hit Japan in a week

The New Paper | Tuesday, Oct 14, 2014

This October 10, 2014, satellite image from NASA shows the eye of Super Typhoon Vongfong in the Philippine Sea. The Joint Typhoon Warning Center predicts landfall around October 12, 2014 at 23:00 UTC near Sasebo, Japan.

Powerful Typhoon Vongfong churned towards Japan yesterday, injuring at least 20 people.

It pounded the southern Okinawan islands with gusts of up to 234kmh and driving rain.

Up above the sky, one man had a unhindered view of the approaching typhoon, Mail Online reported.

National Aeronautics and Space Association astronaut Reid Wiseman, who is serving as a flight engineer aboard the International Space Station, tweeted a picture of Vongfong and said: "I've seen many from here, but none like this."

His striking shot shows thick white clouds swirling across the ocean.

In the Twitter picture, clouds stretch out from the centre of the storm across the limb of Earth.

Mr Wiseman, who arrived at the space station in March and is expected to return home next month, is no stranger to sharing his journey from above.

That is probably why his growing social media following stands at around 315,000 people.

"It's safe to say Vongfong was the strongest storm on Earth since Haiyan last year," said Mr Michael Lowry, storm specialist for The Weather Channel.

Haiyan killed over 6,000 people when it slammed into the Philippines in November last year.

Vongfong, which means "wasp" in Cantonese, is expected to approach Japan's southern main island of Kyushu by early tomorrow and could make landfall, the meteorological agency said.

Okinawa has already been experiencing gusts and heavy rain, which caused a blackout in 33,000 households, AFP reported.

More than 10,000 residents, mostly in coastal areas, were advised to evacuate.

At least 20 people have been injured, including a nine-year-old girl and a man in his 20s who lost fingers after they were caught in doors slammed shut by strong winds in two cities, municipal officials said.

Satellite images of Vongfong have shown a perfectly formed eye in the middle of a gigantic swirling disc of cloud.

It was unusual for two powerful typhoons to hit Japan in such quick succession, Japan Meteorological Agency said, but it added that the overall number of such storms had not increased.

"It's more coincidence than anything else, mainly due to the way the high pressure systems are located off Japan this year."

The typhoon came just a week after another strong tropical storm, Phanfone, whipped through the country, leaving 11 people dead or missing in a nation prone to natural disasters.

Earthquakes shook northern Japan yesterday, two weeks after a volcano in the central part of the archipelago erupted without warning, killing at least 56 hikers.

In late August, a downpour in western Japan's Hiroshima triggered massive landslides and killed more than 70 people.


This article was first published on Oct 12, 2014.
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