One of the most powerful typhoons ever recorded slammed into the Philippines Friday, cutting communications and blocking roads in the center of the country amid worries of serious damage and casualties.
Telephone lines appeared down as it was difficult to get through to the landfall site 650 kilometers (405 miles) southeast of Manila where Typhoon Haiyan slammed into a rural area of the country.
Weather officials said that Haiyan had sustained winds at 235 kilometers (147 miles) per hour, with gusts of 275 kph (170 mph) when it made landfall at Eastern Samar province's Guiuan township.
The local weather bureau makes estimates based on longer periods of time than others, such as the U.S. Navy's Joint Typhoon Warning Center, which said shortly before the typhoon made landfall that its maximum sustained winds were 314 kilometers per hour (195 mph), with gusts up to 379 kilometers per hour (235 mph).
"195-mile-per-hour winds, there aren't too many buildings constructed that can withstand that kind of wind," said Jeff Masters, a former hurricane meteorologist who is meteorology director at the private firm Weather Underground.
Masters said the storm had been poised to be the strongest tropical cyclone ever recorded at landfall. He warned of "catastrophic damage."
The typhoon - the 24th serious storm to hit the Philippines this year - is forecast to barrel through the Philippines' central region Friday and Saturday before blowing toward the South China Sea over the weekend, heading toward Vietnam.