1684068877 Cyclone Mocha floods port city of Myanmar spares large refugee

Cyclone Mocha floods port city of Myanmar, spares large refugee camps – Portal

DHAKA, May 14 (Portal) – Storm surges triggered by a powerful cyclone sweeping inland from the Bay of Bengal inundated the Myanmar port city of Sittwe on Saturday but spared a densely populated cluster of refugee camps in low-lying neighboring Bangladesh largely .

About 400,000 people were evacuated in Myanmar and Bangladesh before Cyclone Mocha made landfall as authorities and aid agencies scramble to prevent heavy casualties from one of the strongest storms to hit the region in years.

Vulnerable settlements in Bangladesh’s Cox’s Bazar, home to more than a million Rohingya refugees, were relatively unscathed by the storm, which is now beginning to abate.

“Fortunately, we were able to escape the worst of the hurricane,” said Mohammad Shamsud Douza, a Bangladesh refugee government official. “We’re getting some reports of damaged huts, but there are no casualties.”

Myanmar appears to have suffered the direct effects of Cyclone Mocha, when winds up to 210 km/h (130 mph) ripped away tin roofs and brought down a communications tower.

Parts of Sittwe, the capital of Rakhine state, were flooded and the ground floors of several buildings were flooded, video posted on social media by a witness in the city showed.

An ethnic militia controlling much of Rakhine said a large number of buildings in Sittwe and Kyauktaw were damaged and schools and monasteries where people had taken refuge were left without roofs.

“All of northern Rakhine has suffered severe damage,” said Khine Thu Kha, spokesman for the Arakan Army. “People are in trouble.”

According to the United Nations and local media, communications networks in Rakhine were cut after the cyclone hit the country.

According to the UN Office for Humanitarian Aid (OCHA), across Rakhine state and the north-west of the country, about 6 million people were already in need of humanitarian assistance, while 1.2 million were displaced.

Drone view shows fishermen moving their boats to safer terrain due to Cyclone Mocha in Teknaf Marine Drive, Cox's Bazar

[1/2] A drone view shows fishermen moving their boats to safer terrain due to Cyclone Mocha at Teknaf Marine Drive, Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh, May 12, 2023, in this screenshot from a handout video. Arjun Jain/Rohingya Refugee Response/Handout via Portal

“When a cyclone hits an area that already has such great humanitarian needs, it is a nightmare scenario, affecting hundreds of thousands of vulnerable people whose coping capacity has been severely compromised by successive crises,” said Ramanathan Balakrishnan, UN resident coordinator.

Myanmar has been in chaos since the junta seized power two years ago. After the protests were crushed, a resistance movement is fighting the military on various fronts.

A junta spokesman did not immediately respond to a call from Portal for comment.


In Bangladesh, where authorities moved about 300,000 people to safer areas ahead of the storm, Rohingya refugees huddled in their ramshackle homes in densely populated camps in Cox’s Bazar in the south-east of the country.

“Our bamboo and tarpaulin shelter offers little protection,” said 21-year-old refugee Mohammed Aziz. “We pray to Allah to save us.”

Many of the Rohingya refugees, including half a million children, live in sprawling camps prone to flooding and landslides after fleeing a military raid in Myanmar in 2017.

Hundreds of thousands of Rohingya Muslims remain in Rakhine State, Myanmar, where many are being held in separate camps from the rest of the population.

“The state government has moved many Rohingya from the Sittwe camps to higher ground,” said Zaw Min Tun, a Rohingya resident in Sittwe, adding that the evacuation took place without warning.

“They didn’t provide them with food either, so people are starving.”

Ahead of the storm, the World Food Program said it was providing food and supplies that could help more than 400,000 people in and around Rakhine for a month.

Reporting by Ruma Paul in DHAKA and Portal contributors; Writing by Devjyot Ghoshal; Edited by Clarence Fernandez

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