Super Typhoon Haiyan moves towards the Philippines.(Photo: NOAA via Getty Images)
Doyle Rice, USA TODAY
Super Typhoon Haiyan made landfall early Friday morning in Guiuan, a small city in Samar province in the eastern Philippines.
Thousands of people evacuated villages in the central Philippines on Thursday as one of the strongest typhoons in world history took aim the region, which was devastated by an earthquake last month.
Haiyan had intensified and accelerated as it moved closer to the country with sustained winds of 195 mph and ferocious gusts of 235 mph, according to the U.S. Navy's Joint Typhoon Warning Center.
No Atlantic or eastern Pacific hurricane has ever been stronger than Haiyan (typhoons are the same type of storms as hurricanes).
About 10 million people live on the central Philippine islands and are most at risk from a direct strike from Haiyan.
The latest forecast track shows Haiyan passing very near Tacloban, a city of a quarter million people, and Cebu, a city of nearly one million people, reports meteorologist Eric Holthaus of Quartz magazine.
The storm was not expected to directly hit Manila farther north. The lowest alert in a four-level typhoon warning system was issued in the flood-prone capital area, meaning it could experience winds of up to 37 mph and rain.
President Benigno Aquino III warned people to leave high-risk areas, including 100 coastal communities where forecasters said the storm surge could reach up to 23 feet. He urged seafarers to stay in port.
"No typhoon can bring Filipinos to their knees if we'll be united," he said in a televised address.
Haiyan is the fourth typhoon to hit the Philippines in 2013, a nation that typically gets hit by more typhoons than any country on Earth, usually about six or seven each year.