Tokyo   -   Japanese authorities on Wednesday issued a rare evacuation order for 240,000 people in the country’s southwest over flood and landslide fears, as officials confirmed a man was killed in heavy rains.

The evacuation orders came after the Japan Meteorological Agency issued its highest-level alert for several parts of the northern Kyushu region.

The alert is issued “if there is a significant likelihood of catastrophes” and is activated once a disaster is declared, ordering people to take measures to protect their lives.

Nearly a million more people are under a lower-level evacuation advisory over the heavy rains.

Evacuation orders and advisories are issued by local authorities but are not mandatory even though officials urge residents to heed them.

The fire and disaster management agency said it had already received multiple reports of houses flooded in Saga prefecture and officials were working to confirm details of the damage.

“We are seeing unprecedented levels of heavy rains in cities where we issued special warnings,” the Japan Meteorological Agency added in a hastily organised press conference Wednesday morning.