Seven MILLION people are told to evacuate as powerful typhoon approaches ...

A powerful typhoon that officials warned could bring record rains and gusts strong enough to flip cars slammed into southern Japan on Sunday, prompting authorities to urge millions to seek shelter.

Typhoon Haishen has weakened somewhat as it neared Japan's mainland, and shifted further west out to sea, but it remained a 'large' and 'extremely strong' storm.

After lashing a string of exposed, remote southern islands, it neared Japan's Kyushu region on Sunday evening, with authorities issuing evacuation advisories for more than seven million residents.

High waves hit the coast in Miyazaki, Miyazaki Prefecture, southwestern Japan, on Sunday

High waves hit the coast in Miyazaki, Miyazaki Prefecture, southwestern Japan, on Sunday 

A woman walks in heavy rain as Typhoon Haishen approaches in Kagoshima, Kagoshima prefecture on September 6

A woman walks in heavy rain as Typhoon Haishen approaches in Kagoshima, Kagoshima prefecture on September 6

Local residents wearing protective face mask take refuge at a site acting as an evacuation center as Typhoon Haishen is approaching to southwestern Japan

Local residents wearing protective face mask take refuge at a site acting as an evacuation center as Typhoon Haishen is approaching to southwestern Japan

A handout photo made available by Japan's Meteorological Agency shows the typhoon moving northward southwest of Kyushu Island on Sunday

 A handout photo made available by Japan's Meteorological Agency shows the typhoon moving northward southwest of Kyushu Island on Sunday 

The weather agency urged people to exercise 'most serious caution' for possible record rain, violent winds, high waves and surging tides.

'Record-level rainfall is expected. It may cause landslides or it could cause even large rivers to flood,' said Yoshihisa Nakamoto, director of the forecast division at the Japan Meteorological Agency, during a televised briefing.

He added that surging tides could cause widespread flooding in low-lying areas, particularly around river mouths.

As the storm passed over several remote islands earlier Sunday, strong winds bent palm trees and sheets of rain lashed the area.

Pedestrians struggle with umbrellas against strong wind caused by typhoon Haishen in Kagoshima, Kagoshima Prefecture, southwestern Japan

Pedestrians struggle with umbrellas against strong wind caused by typhoon Haishen in Kagoshima, Kagoshima Prefecture, southwestern Japan

A woman walks in heavy rain as Typhoon Haishen approaches in Kagoshima, Kagoshima prefecture on September 6

A woman walks in heavy rain as Typhoon Haishen approaches in Kagoshima, Kagoshima prefecture on September 6

A woman covers a window of a dry cleaner shop on September 5, as Typhoon Haishen approaches the country

A woman covers a window of a dry cleaner shop on September 5, as Typhoon Haishen approaches the country 

At an emergency cabinet meeting, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe warned that flooding and landslides were a possibility.

'Maximum caution is needed as record rain, violent winds, high waves and high tides are possible,' he said.

'I ask the Japanese people, including those who live in high-risk areas for flooding rivers or high tides, to stay informed and take action immediately to ensure their safety.'

At 10 pm (1300 GMT), Haishen was located about 90 kilometres (56 miles) west of Makurazaki city, packing gusts up to 216 kmh (135 miles) - strong enough to overturn vehicles and snap wooden power poles.

The storm was forecast to move north and travel off the western coast of Kyushu before reaching the Korean peninsula Monday morning, according to the weather agency.

Cancelled flights are seen on a screen at Fukuoka Airport as Typhoon Haishen approaches on September 6

Cancelled

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