UK
08/11/2013 09:35 GMT

Super Typhoon Haiyan Leaves At Least Four Dead In The Philippines

Four people have died and thousands have fled as the "strongest tropical cyclone to make landfall in world history", Super Typhoon Haiyan, hits the central Philippines.

Amid fears of "catastrophic damage," the country is suffering winds of up to 195mph. More than one million people have been evacuated from areas in the path of the extreme weather.

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At least four people have died due to the massive storm

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The victims are reported to include a mother and child who drowned in South Cotabato, and a boy who was struck by lightning in Zamboanga City.

AP said a fourth was killed by a falling tree but the death toll was expected to rise as the worst affected areas are currently cut off.

Up to 12 million people live in the affected areas, including the tourist districts of Leyte Island and Borocay Island.

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Waves up to six metres high have been reported as a result of high winds

President Benigno Aquino III threatened to use guns to force people living in high-risk areas, including 100 coastal communities, to move in a desperate bid to save lives.

"No typhoon can bring Filipinos to their knees if we'll be united," Mr Aquino said in a televised address.

Known locally as Super Typhoon Yolanda, desperate measure are being taken in preparation for the category-five storm, which made landfall early near Guiuan around 5am local time.

According to Reuters, the storm pushed surges of giant waves, some more than 5 metres, which lashed coastal islands. Heavy rainfall is expected to lead to flooding.

The region, which is still recovering from being hit by a 7.3-magnitude earthquake in October, is expecting to suffer huge devastation, with meteorologist Eric Holthaus, tweeting that Haiyan could prove the "strongest landfall in history".

At the moment the cyclone is about 300miles across. It is expected to pass over the south end of Mindoro Island around noon on Friday, hitting Busuanga at about 1pm.

More than 5,000 people are currently without homes due to the quake, with the storm expecting to hamper current relief efforts, with all transportation suspended.

Jeff Masters, a former hurricane meteorologist who is a director at the private firm Weather Underground, warned that there would be "catastrophic damage".

He told Sky News: "195mph winds; there aren't too many buildings constructed that can withstand that kind of wind. The wind damage should be the most extreme in Philippines' history."

According to Andrew Freedman of Climate Central, the super typhoon has "estimated maximum sustained winds of 195mph with gusts above 220mph, which puts the storm in extraordinarily rare territory".

Meteorologists fear that it could even intensify further as it approaches the Vietnamese coast.

Only three storms have boasted similar sustained wind speeds in recent history.

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Satellite image of Super Typhoon Haiyan. Credit: U-Wisconsin-CIMSS via Twitter/@Ryan_Maue

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Satellite image showing the Super Typhoon. Credit: Facebook/EUMETSAT

Typhoon Haiyan