Thousands of people were evacuated and fled their homes as the category five storm sent waves as high as five metres ashore on the islands of Leyte and Samar.
The typhoon, dubbed Yolanda in the Philippines, is the country's 25th this year and is on a collision course with its second-largest city Cebu, home to some 2.5 million people.
Haiyan is expected to miss Manila although the capital may get heavy rain and winds and has been put on low-level alert.
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