Cyclone Mocha may have killed ‘hundreds’ in Myanmar’s Rakhine

New Delhi: Rescue and relief efforts are under way in northwestern Myanmar and neighbouring Bangladesh after Cyclone Mocha crashed ashore, with one humanitarian group working in the affected area saying hundreds had been killed and some Rohingya camps destroyed.
The cyclone – one of the most powerful to ever hit the region – made landfall on Sunday between Sittwe in Myanmar’s Rakhine state and Cox’s Bazar in Bangladesh, where some one million mostly Muslim Rohingya fled after a brutal 2017 crackdown.
On Monday night, Myanmar’s military regime declared conflict-hit Rakhine, which it does not fully control, a “disaster area”, after winds as strong as 250 kilometres per hour (155 miles per hour) brought down trees and telecommunication towers and ripped roofs from buildings.
Torrential rain and a storm surge of between 3 and 3.5 metres (10-11.5 feet) also caused widespread flooding in the low-lying area, with the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) saying there had been widespread destruction in and around Sittwe.
“Early reports suggest that damage is extensive and needs among already vulnerable communities, particularly displaced people, will be high,” it said in an update on Monday, noting that communications with the area were difficult.
More than two million people were living in the path of Cyclone Mocha, including hundreds and thousands of Rohingya who remained in Rakhine following the 2017 crackdown where they were living in squalid camps with severe restrictions on their movement.
Partners Relief and Development, which works in Rakhine, said Rohingya contacts living near Sittwe told them their camps had been almost destroyed and that other early reports were “counting the death toll in the hundreds”.
Aung Kyaw Moe, a Rohingya activist and adviser to the National Unity Government’s Ministry of Human Rights, said on Twitter that the number of deaths in Sittwe alone was 400. He shared video of flattened buildings, but did not elaborate.
The military-owned Myawaddy Channel reported on Monday that three people had been killed in the cyclone.

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