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Typhoon Haiyan Pounds Central Philippines; 3 Dead

One of the strongest typhoons ever recorded is pounding the central Philippines where it has caused landslides, destroyed buildings and killed at least three people.

Many parts of the archipelago nation were cut off from electricity and communications Friday, as Typhoon Haiyan made landfall on the islands of Leyte and Samar.

The storm, known in the Philippines as Typhoon Yolanda, had winds of 315 kilometers per hour as it lashed the islands. Some forecasters say this makes it the strongest recorded typhoon ever to make landfall.

Officials say three people are confirmed killed and seven injured, though the death toll seemed certain to rise. Over 700,000 people in 29 provinces are said to be affected by the storm.

Sonny Coloma, a presidential spokesman, says the government is working hard to distribute relief goods and prevent mass casualties in the worst-hit areas.

"The goods were pre-positioned there and have been brought to the areas of great concern. Right now they're taking care of continuing needs. Let's remember with those past calamities, ones similar to this, what the president wants is a timely supply and enough food."

But many parts of the hardest-hit areas Friday were cut off from communication, and the extent of the damage was not known.

Aya Omar, a call center supervisor in Manila, tells VOA she is "very worried" about her family, which lives near a beach on Leyte Island's Tacloban city. Omar says she has not talked to her family since early Friday when her mother sent frantic text messages about the incoming storm.

"All communication lines are down and nobody can get out there. Pretty much the whole city, Tacloban city, is off the grid right now, so I don't know what I can do now except pray."

Television images from Tacloban showed knee-deep water filling the streets, as iron sheets from damaged buildings swirled in the air above. Many poorly constructed houses were completely washed away.

Schools, offices and other business are closed across the central Philippines. Hundreds of thousands have been evacuated.

In a national address Thursday, President Benigno Aquino said there is a "very real danger," but he added that "no storm can bring a united Filipino people to its knees."

International relief agencies said about 10 million people in the Philippines face disruption from the typhoon. It is not expected to have a major impact on the capital, Manila, far to the north.

One area of concern is the central Philippine island of Bohol, where more than 200 people were killed in a 7.2 magnitude earthquake last month. Bohol is not expected to take a direct hit, but the storm is likely to add to the misery of thousands of displaced people forced to stay in shelters.

Philippine meteorologists warn that Haiyan could be more dangerous than last year's Typhoon Bopha, which killed at least 1,100 people on the southern island of Mindanao. Bopha was the world's most powerful storm of 2012.

The Philippines is vulnerable to severe flooding caused by heavy rains and tsunamis. It is hit by about 20 tropical cyclones each year.

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