KYAUKTAW, MYANMAR: The strongest cyclone in the Bay of Bengal in more than a decade was set to make landfall on Sunday, with hundreds of thousands of people evacuating from the coasts of Myanmar and Bangladesh from strong winds and rain.
Cyclone Mocha It was packing winds of up to 240 kilometers per hour (149 miles per hour), according to Zoom Earth, which classified it as a Super Cyclone.
Landfall is expected around 0630 GMT between Cox’s Bazar, where nearly a million Rohingya The refugees live in camps made up largely of flimsy shelters, and Sittwe is in western Myanmar Rakhine coast.
“The wind is getting stronger at the moment,” rescue worker Kyaw Kyaw Khing told AFP from Pauktaw town, 25 km from Sittwe, where he said some 3,000 people had arrived seeking shelter.
“We have distributed enough food for one or two meals to people who have been evacuated to temporary shelters. I don’t think we will be able to send any food today because of the weather.”
Thousands left Sittwe on Saturday, congregated in trucks, cars and tuk-tuks heading for higher ground inland where meteorologists warned of a storm surge of up to 3.5 metres.
“We are not well because we did not bring food and other things to cook,” said Maung Win, 57, who spent the night in a shelter in Kyauktaw Township. “We can only wait for food from people’s donations.”
Bangladeshi authorities have moved 190,000 people in Cox’s Bazar and about 100,000 in Chittagong to safety, Division Commissioner Aminur Rahman told AFP late on Saturday.
On Sunday, residents said rain and wind were felt in Yangon district, Myanmar’s commercial hub, about 500 kilometers away.
The Myanmar Red Cross Society said it was “preparing for a major emergency”.
In Bangladesh, authorities have banned Rohingya refugees from building concrete homes, fearing that doing so will incentivize them to settle permanently rather than return to Myanmar, which they fled five years ago following a brutal military crackdown.
“We live in houses made of tarpaulin and bamboo,” said refugee Inam Ahmed in Nayapara camp near the border town of Teknaf.
“We are afraid. We don’t know where to go.”
The camps are usually somewhat inland, but most are built on hillsides, which expose them to the risk of landslides.
Meteorologists expect the hurricane to bring heavy rains, which could trigger landslides.
Officials have moved to evacuate Rohingya refugees from “dangerous areas” to community centers and more solid buildings such as schools, but Bangladesh’s deputy commissioner for refugees, Shamsud Doza, told AFP: “All Rohingya in the camps are at risk.”
Hundreds of people also fled Saint Martin Island, a local resort area directly in the storm’s path, with thousands more moving to hurricane shelters on the reef’s outcrop.
“tornado Mocha “It is the strongest storm since Cyclone Sidr,” Azizur Rahman, head of the Bangladesh Meteorological Department, told AFP.
This cyclone struck the southern coast of Bangladesh in November 2007, killing more than 3,000 people and causing billions of dollars in damages.
The Rohingyas living in camps for the displaced inside Myanmar were also bracing for the storm.
We could be in danger if the water level rises,” said a camp leader near Kyaukphu in Rakhine state, who asked not to be named for fear of repercussions from the junta.
“There are about 1,000 people in the camp…the authorities only gave us sacks of rice and oil and five life jackets. The local authorities did not arrange any accommodation for us.”
Operations at Bangladesh’s largest seaport, Chittagong, have been suspended, with boat transport and fishing also halted.
Hurricanes – the equivalent of hurricanes in the North Atlantic or hurricanes in the Pacific Northwest – are a regular and deadly threat to the northern Indian Ocean coast where tens of millions of people live.


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