Cyclone Mocha floods Myanmar port city, sparing major refugee camps

DHAKA, May 14 (Reuters) – Storm surges whipped up by a robust cyclone transferring inland from the Bay of Bengal inundated the Myanmar port metropolis of Sittwe on Saturday, however largely spared a densely-populated cluster of refugee camps in low-lying neighbouring Bangladesh.

Some 400,000 individuals have been evacuated in Myanmar and Bangladesh forward of Cyclone Mocha making landfall, as authorities and support businesses scrambled to avert heavy casualties from one of many strongest storms to hit the area in recent times.

Vulnerable settlements in Cox’s Bazar in Bangladesh, the place a couple of million Rohingya refugees dwell, have been left comparatively unscathed by the storm that’s now steadily weakening.

“Luckily, we could escape the worst of the cyclone,” stated Mohammad Shamsud Douza, a Bangladesh authorities official in command of refugees. “We are getting some reports of huts damaged but there are no casualties.”

Myanmar seems to have borne the direct impression of Cyclone Mocha, as winds of as much as 210 kph (130 mph) ripped away tin roofs and introduced down a communications tower.

Parts of Sittwe, the capital of Rakhine state, have been flooded and the bottom flooring of a number of buildings have been below water, a video posted on social media by a witness within the metropolis confirmed.

An ethnic militia that controls swathes of Rakhine stated a lot of constructions in Sittwe and Kyauktaw had been broken, and colleges and monasteries the place individuals had been sheltering have been left with out roofs.

“The whole northern Rakhine has suffered severe damage,” Arakan Army spokesperson Khine Thu Kha stated. “People are in trouble.”

Communication networks in Rakhine had been disrupted after the cyclone made landfall, the U.N. and native media stated.

Across Rakhine state and the north west of the nation about 6 million individuals have been already in want of humanitarian help, whereas 1.2 million have been displaced, based on the U.N. humanitarian workplace (OCHA).

“For a cyclone to hit an area where there is already such deep humanitarian need is a nightmare scenario, impacting hundreds of thousands of vulnerable people whose coping capacity has been severely eroded by successive crises,” U.N. resident coordinator Ramanathan Balakrishnan stated.

Myanmar has been plunged into chaos since a junta seized energy two years in the past. After a crackdown on protests, a resistance motion is combating the army on varied fronts.

A junta spokesperson didn’t instantly reply a phone name from Reuters to hunt remark.


In Bangladesh, the place authorities moved round 300,000 individuals to safer areas earlier than the storm hit, Rohingya refugees inside densely-populated camps within the Cox’s Bazar within the south east of the nation hunkered down inside their ramshackle houses.

“Our shelter, made of bamboo and tarpaulin, offers little protection,” stated refugee Mohammed Aziz, 21. “We’re praying to Allah to save us.”

Many of the Rohingya refugees, half-a-million youngsters amongst them, dwell in sprawling camps vulnerable to flooding and landslides after having fled a military-led crackdown in Myanmar in 2017.

Hundreds of hundreds of the Muslim Rohingya minority stay in Myanmar’s Rakhine state, the place many are confined to camps separated from the remainder of the inhabitants.

“The state government has moved many Rohingya from Sittwe camps to higher grounds area,” Zaw Min Tun, a Rohingya resident in Sittwe stated, including that the evacuation came about with none warning.

“They also didn’t provide any food to them, so people are starving.”

Ahead of the storm, the World Food Programme stated it was getting ready food and aid provides that would assist greater than 400,000 individuals in Rakhine and surrounding areas for a month.

Reporting by Ruma Paul in DHAKA and Reuters workers; Writing by Devjyot Ghoshal; Editing by Clarence Fernandez

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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