TOKYO (AP) -- Japanese authorities on Wednesday directed more than 1 million residents in parts of the southern main island of Kyushu to evacuate to designated shelters as heavy rains batter the region, prompting fears of landslides and widespread flooding.
The Fire and Disaster Management Agency said the directive was issued in three southern prefectures. Directives are stronger than advisories, but there are no penalties if people do not comply.
Heavy rain has continued in southern Japan since Friday, killing an elderly woman in a mudslide in Kagoshima. The rain also has flooded dozens of homes.
Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Kotaro Nogami said 14,000 ground troops were standing by for emergency rescue and search operations if needed.
He urged residents to use caution and try to evacuate early "to protect your lives" rather than waiting until the last minute.
The agency said landslide warnings have been issued for parts of the three prefectures because rain is expected to intensify over the next few days.
The Meteorological Agency says up to 35 centimeters (13 inches) more rain is expected through Thursday.