Super Typhoon Haiyan battered the Philippines Friday with wind gusts of up to 275 kph (171 mph), leaving at least three dead as it moved rapidly over the Southeast Asian archipelago.

Some 700,000 people have been affected in the central part of the country, where the typhoon has caused widespread power outages and forced airports and schools to close, according to the latest official bulletin.

The Philippines' National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council said two people were electrocuted after intense winds brought down power lines, while a third individual died after being struck by a lamp post.

At least seven others were injured, most due to falling objects, the council said.

It added that 125,000 people in 22 provinces had been forced to take refuge in 109 shelters ahead of the powerful system.

Known locally as Yolanda, the typhoon made landfall at around 4:30 a.m. local time in the central town of Guiuan and was crossing the country rapidly from east to west.

Haiyan has been classified as a "super typhoon" by U.S. meteorologists because it is packing maximum sustained winds of more than 240 kph (149 mph).

Welfare and Development Minister Dinky Soliman told local ANC radio that authorities expect 7.9 million families will be affected by the super typhoon, which local media outlets have termed "one of the worst in history."

Filipino President Benigno Aquino gave a nationwide address Thursday warning that the typhoon was "expected to be more intense than Bopha," a typhoon that left 1,800 people dead or missing in the Philippines last December.

The Philippines' meteorological service, Pagasa, is forecasting that the typhoon, which is moving at a speed of 40 kph (25 mph) will move into the South China Sea Friday night.

The typhoon is projected to batter Vietnam and Laos over the weekend. EFE