As an intense typhoon batters southern Japan with torrential rain and gales, authorities have ordered millions people to evacuate their homes, according to local reports.
Public broadcaster NHK said local governments have now ordered more than eight million people in southern and western Japan to flee due to Typhoon Nanmadol, which has already triggered power blackouts and flight cancellations.
Officials issued the highest grade on Japan’s disaster warning scale – a level 5 alert – to more than 330,000 people in Kagoshima, Miyazaki and Oita prefectures, NHK said.
The level 4 alert that prompts the evacuation order for eight million people affects 3.7 million households in parts of the Kyushu, Shikoku and Chugoku regions.
Weather forecasters have warned of strong winds and high waves “like never experienced before”, with the threat of rivers overflowing, high waves, violent winds and landslides.
Typhoon Nanmadol, classified as a super typhoon by the US Navy’s Joint Typhoon Warning Center, has been slowly heading north to the country’s main southern island of Kyushu.
The Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA) said the area faces being deluged by 500mm (20in) of rain and wind gusts of up to 155mph (250kph) on Sunday.
It also warned residents of “unprecedented” levels of powerful winds and waves in some areas, urging them to evacuate early.
Nanmadol is expected to turn east and reach Tokyo on Tuesday before moving out to sea.
In affected areas, thousands of residents have taken shelter at evacuation centres.
Kyushu Electric Power Company said more than 93,000 homes across the island were without electricity on Sunday because of damage to power lines.
Hundreds of domestic flights in and out of the region have been cancelled and more are planned to be grounded in western Japan until Tuesday.
Public transport, including rail services and buses, have also been suspended along with the famous bullet train.
Hundreds of shops have closed in the face of the extreme weather.