Filipino residents sleep on the floor at a gymnasium turned into an evacuation center in Sorsogon City, Bicol region, Philippines, on Thursday.(Photo: Kit Recebido, EPA)
Thousands of people in vulnerable areas of the Philippines are being relocated as the strongest storm on the planet so far this year spins toward the country.
With sustained winds of 305 kph (190 mph) and gusts as strong as 370 kph (230 mph), Super Typhoon Haiyan was churning across the Western Pacific toward the central Philippines as one of the most intense tropical cyclones ever recorded.
Its wind strength makes it equivalent to an exceptionally strong Category 5 hurricane.
The storm, known as Yolanda in the Philippines, is expected to still be a super typhoon, with winds in excess of 240 kph (149 mph), when it makes landfall Friday morning in the region of Eastern Visayas.
The storm is so large in diameter that clouds from it are affecting two-thirds of the country.
Authorities in the region had moved more than 3,800 people to evacuation centers by late Thursday, Maj. Reynaldo Balido of the Philippine Office of Civil Defense said.
Most of those relocated live in Tacloban City, which sits on the coast of the island of Leyte and has a population of more than 200,000.