A strong storm that hit the coasts of Myanmar and southeast Bangladesh on Sunday has forced thousands of people to take refuge in temples, pagodas, and schools.
In Bangladeshi Rohingya refugee camps, Cyclone Mocha toppled trees, scattered flimsy dwellings, and caused a storm surge to low-lying regions as it made landfall.
While local media in Myanmar stated that a man died there after a tree fell on him, rescue services in Myanmar claimed that two people died in a landslip.
According to Bangladesh’s meteorology office, Mocha made landfall between Sittwe, Myanmar, and Cox’s Bazar, where almost one million Rohingya refugees reside in Bangladesh.
The largest storm to hit the Bay of Bengal in more than ten years swept into the seaside town of Sittwe, turning its streets into rivers.
According to Myanmar’s military information office, the storm in Sittwe, Kyaukpyu, and Gwa townships damaged homes, electrical transformers, cell phone towers, boats, and lampposts. It said that the storm also destroyed sports facilities in the Coco Islands, which are located 425 kilometres (264 miles) southwest of Yangon, the largest city in the nation.
The bodies of a couple who were buried when a landslip brought on by heavy rain struck their home in Tachileik township were found, according to a rescue squad from the country’s eastern Shan state, which made the announcement on its Facebook page.
In Pyin Oo Lwin township in Myanmar’s central Mandalay Region, a man was reported to have been crushed to death when a banyan tree fell on him.
Strong gusts caused a cell phone tower in Sittwe to collapse, while other nearby structures suffered damage, according to local media.
According to Tin Nyein Oo, a volunteer in Sittwe shelters, more than 4,000 of Sittwe’s 300,000 residents were evacuated to other towns, and more than 20,000 people are taking refuge at strong structures like monasteries, pagodas, and schools situated on the city’s highlands.
Many locals, he continued, believe that the storm surge cannot reach their homes because they are located in elevated places that are more than 3 metres (10 feet) above sea level.
“Mocha has made landfall,” wrote Titon Mitra, the UNDP’s representative in Myanmar, on Twitter. 2 million individuals are at risk. Large-scale losses and damage are anticipated. We need unrestricted access to all impacted communities in order to respond, and we are prepared.
Azizur Rahman, director of the Bangladesh Meteorological Department in Dhaka, said earlier that authorities in Cox’s Bazar, which was in the storm’s predicted path, had evacuated about 1.27 million people. However, by early afternoon, it appeared that the storm would largely miss the country as it veered east.
He told reporters, “The level of risk has significantly decreased in Bangladesh.
On Saint Martin’s Island in the Bay of Bengal, strong gusts and rain persisted until the afternoon, but anticipated tidal surges did not occur because the cyclone began moving towards the Bangladeshi shore at low tide.
The UN and local media reported that the cyclone had damaged Rakhine’s communication networks.
According to UN resident coordinator Ramanathan Balakrishnan, “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.”
Cyclones in the Bay of Bengal are intensifying more fast, according to Roxy Mathew Koll, a climate scientist at the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology in Pune, India. She said this is partly due to climate change.
High winds in Teknaf, Bangladesh, damaged trees, halted traffic, and forced locals to seek shelter, according to an AFP correspondent.
From the Nayapara refugee camp in Cox’s Bazar, Mohammad Sayed, 28, told AFP that “our camp houses, which are constructed with bamboo and tarpaulins, can be blown away in soft, light winds.”
Numerous people packed into trucks, automobiles, and tuk-tuks and left Sittwe on Saturday in search of higher ground inland after meteorologists issued a 3.5m (11 foot) storm surge warning.
Divisional commissioner Aminur Rahman told AFP late Saturday that 190,000 residents in Cox’s Bazar and over 100,000 in Chittagong had been relocated to safety by Bangladeshi authorities.
According to the Myanmar Red Cross Society, they are “getting ready for a major emergency response.”
Authorities in Bangladesh have prohibited Rohingya refugees from building concrete homes out of concern that it could tempt them to stay permanently rather than return to Myanmar, where they fled five years ago as a result of a harsh military campaign.
The camps are often located a little bit inland, but because the most of them are situated on hillsides, landslides are a possibility.
The cyclone is expected to deliver torrential rain, which can cause landslips.
Additionally, thousands of people moved to cyclone shelters on the coral outcrop as hundreds of people left Saint Martin’s Island in Bangladesh, a nearby tourist destination directly in the path of the storm.