TWO million people have been told to take shelter immediately as Japan braces for an “unprecedented” super typhoon with 170mph winds.
The Japan Meteorological Agency has issued a rare “special warning” about the powerful storm, which is set to hit the country’s third largest island of Kyushu on Sunday.
Nanmadol, classified as a super typhoon by the US Navy’s Joint Typhoon Warning Centre, has the potential to be the most destructive tropical storm to strike Japan in decades.
On Saturday night, the typhoon was classed in the top category of “violent” – and was packing gusts of up to 168mph as it hovered 124 miles north of Minami Daito island.
When the monster storm makes landfall, it’s expected to bring up to 20 inches of rain.
Local broadcasters have already aired footage of fierce winds and rain lashing Japan’s southern island chain of Okinawa as the powerful typhoon approaches.
Nanmadol is expected to make landfall on Sunday in the seaside city of Kagoshima on Kyushu, then move north the following day before heading towards Japan’s main island.
Millions have been urged to evacuate from the areas of Kagoshima, Kumamoto and Miyazaki in the southern part of the island.
Ryuta Kurora, the head of the Japan Meteorological Agency’s forecast unit, warned of “fierce” winds and record rainfall.
He said: “There are risks of unprecedented storms, high waves, storm surges, and record rainfall.
“Maximum caution is required. It’s a very dangerous typhoon.
“The wind will be so fierce that some houses might collapse.”
Authorities have urged people to find shelter or alternative buildings that will be able withstand the extreme weather.
“Please move into sturdy buildings before violent winds start to blow and stay away from windows even inside sturdy buildings,” Kurora said.
Japan is currently in typhoon season and faces around 20 storms a year – routinely seeing heavy rains that cause landslides or flash floods.
In 2019, Typhoon Hagibis smashed into Japan as it hosted the Rugby World Cup, claiming the lives of more than 100 people.
A year earlier, Typhoon Jebi shut down Kansai Airport in Osaka, killing 14 people.
And in 2018, floods and landslides killed more than 200 people in western Japan during the country’s annual rainy season.
Ahead of Typhoon Nanmadol’s arrival, flights have been cancelled at regional airports and some train services have been halted.
The storm is forecast to curve east and pass over Tokyo on Tuesday, before moving out to sea by Wednesday.