(CNN) -- Super Typhoon Haiyan, one of the strongest tropical cyclones ever observed, made landfall Friday morning in the Philippines, the country's weather service reported.
Thousands of people in vulnerable areas of the central Philippines were evacuated as the monster storm spun toward the country.
With sustained winds of 315 kph (195 mph) and gusts as strong as 380 kph (235 mph), Haiyan churned across the Western Pacific into the Philippines.
Its wind strength makes it equivalent to an exceptionally strong Category 5 hurricane.
Haiyan will move over the many islands of the central Philippines over the next 18 hours before exiting into the South China Sea overnight Friday into Saturday. Haiyan will weaken slightly as the storm crosses land, but forecasters with the Philippine weather agency, Pagasa, predict that it will maintain super typhoon intensity throughout its passage of the islands.
The storm, known as Yolanda in the Philippines, is so large in diameter that clouds from it are affecting two-thirds of the country, which extends over 1,850 kilometers (1,150 miles)...
CNN PRODUCER NOTE iReporter leoudtohan captured this video of inclement weather conditions in the Bohol island province in the central Philippines as Typhoon Haiyan bears down on the country. Some low lying areas have been evacuated and locals have prepared by cutting down unstable tree limbs and suspending school classes, he said. Bohol was hit by an earthquake last month which left more than 200 dead and many residents are still in makeshift shelters. Read the latest on Super Typhoon Haiyan from CNN.
- sarahbrowngb, CNN iReport producer
Typhoon Haiyan, the world's strongest storm of the year, has made landfall in the Philippines with winds of up to 235 km/h (146mph).
The category-five storm was centred 62 km south-east of Guiuan, in the country's Eastern Samar province, the national weather service said.
Rescue services have reportedly lost contact with Guiuan, a town of 47,000.
Schools and offices have been closed in the region and thousands of people were evacuated amid fears of serious damage.
The storm is not expected to directly hit the capital Manila, further north.
Jeff Masters, a former hurricane meteorologist who is meteorology director at the private firm Weather Underground, told the Associated Press news agency there would be "catastrophic damage".
"The wind damage should be the most extreme in Philippines history,'' he added.
Another meteorologist, Eric Holthaus, said in a tweet that it could prove the "strongest landfall in history"...