Cyclone Mocha is heading to the coasts of Bangladesh and Myanmar, and thousands are fleeing

Cyclone Mocha is heading to the coasts of Bangladesh and Myanmar, and thousands are fleeing
Cyclone Mocha is heading to the coasts of Bangladesh and Myanmar, and thousands are fleeing

From Rome Paul

DHAKA (Reuters) – A powerful storm with winds of up to 175 kilometers per hour lashed the coasts of eastern Bangladesh and Myanmar on Saturday, threatening nearly a million Rohingya refugees and other low-lying residents.

Thousands of people from both countries had already fled to safer areas before the storm struck.

Cyclone Mocha is likely to strengthen before it makes landfall in the area between Bangladesh’s Cox’s Bazar and Myanmar on Sunday, the Bangladesh Meteorological Bureau said in a bulletin.

More than a million Rohingya refugees live in Cox’s Bazar, a border region in southeastern Bangladesh, most of whom fled a military-led crackdown in Myanmar in 2017.

The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said it expected Mocha, classified as a very dangerous cyclonic storm, to make a path through Myanmar’s Rakhine State and northwest Myanmar, where six million people live in need of humanitarian assistance, along with 1.2 million displaced people.

Since a military council seized power two years ago, Myanmar has been in chaos, and a resistance movement is fighting a battle against the army on multiple fronts after it launched a bloody crackdown on protests.

A spokesman for Myanmar’s military council did not answer a call.

“We are focusing on saving lives…those at risk of landslides will be evacuated,” said Mohammad Shams Daji, a Bangladeshi government official responsible for refugee affairs.

He added that thousands of workers and volunteers from local communities have already been deployed, along with medical staff and rescue teams, in preparation for any tasks.

Outside the refugee camps, 5,000 people have had to move to cyclone shelters, and authorities are making arrangements to evacuate 500,000 people from the path of the cyclone, said Nitai Chandra De Sarkar of the Bangladesh Disaster Management Office.

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And in Myanmar, the World Food Program said it was preparing food and relief supplies that could help more than 400,000 people in and around Rakhine for a month.

Local media reported that at least 10,000 people left their homes in Myanmar’s Rakhine State for safer areas.

“Everyone has been trying to leave the town since yesterday afternoon,” said a 20-year-old resident of Sittwe, the capital of Rakhine, who asked not to be named.

“There are not many people left on my street, only my family,” he added.

(Prepared by Amira Zahran and Muhammad Aysem for the Arabic Bulletin – Edited by Hassan Ammar)