8 Nov 2013

Powerful typhoon batters Philippines

9:13 pm on 8 November 2013

What may be the world's strongest ever typhoon has hit the central Philippines, killing at least three people and causing widespread damage on Friday.

Millions of people have fled to safer ground or are taking refuge in shelters. Authorities have warned that more than 12 million people are at risk from Typhoon Haiyan.

Communications are down in some of the areas that were worst hit by the category 5 storm early on Friday morning.

There is particular concern about the city of Guiuan, with a population of 47,000, which was the first in line when Haiyan made landfall, the ABC reports.

The typhoon has since been tracking east to west across the central Philippines, causing widespread damage.

Sustained winds of up to 315km/h have brought down powerlines and trees. Many buildings have lost their roofs and some houses have been destroyed.

Amateur video has shown flooded streets caused by heavy rain and a storm surge that was predicted to be as high as seven metres.

The storm is not expected to directly hit the capital Manila, further north, but is forecast to move over to the South China Sea north of Palawan Island on Saturday, the BBC reports.

In its path are areas already struggling to recover from a 7.3-magnitude earthquake in October, including the worst-hit island of Bohol.

About 5000 people are still living in tents in Bohol after losing their homes in the quake, which killed more than 200 people.

The military says it is transporting food packages and relief goods to remote communities, and has helicopters on stand-by. Ferry operations have already been suspended and fishing boats ordered back to port.