Kyauktaw, Myanmar, May 14:Cyclone Mocha crashed ashore in Myanmar and southeastern Bangladesh on Sunday, uprooting trees, scattering flimsy homes in Rohingya displacement camps and bringing a storm surge into low-lying areas.
Packing winds of up to 195 kilometres (120 miles) per hour, Mocha hit between Cox’s Bazar, home to nearly one million Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh, and Myanmar’s Sittwe, according to Bangladesh’s weather office.
Streets in Sittwe were turned into rivers as the biggest storm to hit the Bay of Bengal in more than a decade surged through the seaside town.
“The water is gradually rising,” social worker Wai Hun Aung told AFP from Sittwe.
“The tide has reached to the drain in front of a school… Soon we will move our important belongings upstairs.”
The wind ripped apart homes made of tarpaulin and bamboo at one camp for displaced Rohingya at Kyaukphyu in Myanmar’s Rakhine state.
Its residents were anxiously watching the rising sea tide, camp leader Khin Shwe told AFP.
“We are now going to check whether sea water is increasing to our place… if the sea water rises, our camp can be flooded,” Khin Shwe said.
In Teknaf in Bangladesh, high winds uprooted trees, brought traffic to a halt and sent residents running for cover, an AFP correspondent said.
“Our camp houses, which are constructed with bamboo and tarpaulins, can be blown away in soft, light winds,” Mohammad Sayed, 28, told AFP from Nayapara refugee camp in Cox’s Bazar.
“The schools, which are designated as cyclone shelters… are not strong shelters that can withstand the winds of a cyclone. We are scared.”
Thousands left Sittwe on Saturday, packing into trucks, cars and tuk-tuks and heading for higher ground inland as meteorologists warned of a storm surge of up to 3.5 metres (11 feet).
“We are not OK because we didn’t bring food and other things to cook,” said Maung Win, 57, who spent the night in a shelter in Kyauktaw town further inland. “We can only wait to get food from people’s donations.”
Bangladeshi authorities had moved 190,000 people in Cox’s Bazar and nearly 100,000 in Chittagong to safety, divisional commissioner Aminur Rahman told AFP late Saturday
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