Thousands In Shelters As 'Dangerous' Typhoon Hits Japan

Thousands of people took refuge in shelters in southwestern Japan on Sunday as powerful Typhoon Nanmadol churned towards the region, prompting authorities to urge over four million residents to evacuate.

The Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA) has issued a rare "special warning" for the Kagoshima and Miyazaki regions in Kyushu prefecture -- an alert that is issued only when it forecasts conditions seen once in several decades.

By Sunday morning, heavy rain and high winds lashed the area on Japan's southern island, with nearly 98,000 households in Kagoshima, Kumamoto, Nagasaki and Miyazaki already without power.

Trains, flights and ferry runs were cancelled until the passage of the storm, and even some convenience stores -- generally open all hours and considered a lifeline in disasters -- were shutting their doors.

"Please stay away from dangerous places, and please evacuate if you feel even the slightest hint of danger," Prime Minister Fumio Kishida tweeted after convening a government meeting on the storm.

"It will be dangerous to evacuate at night. Please move to safety while it's still light outside," he added.

The JMA has warned the region could face "unprecedented" danger from high winds, storm surges and torrential rain.

"Maximum caution is required," Ryuta Kurora, head of the JMA's forecast unit said on Saturday.

"It's a very dangerous typhoon."

"The wind will be so fierce that some houses might collapse," Kurora told reporters, also warning of flooding and landslides.