Friday, June 9, 2023

Cyclone death toll in Myanmar rises to 54

At least 54 people were killed and more than 185,000 buildings damaged in Myanmar after a powerful cyclone hit last weekend, state broadcaster MRTV reported on Thursday.

Communication problems in the affected areas, where infrastructure was already poor, and the military government’s tight control over information left a veil of uncertainty about the actual extent of casualties and damage.

Cyclone Mocha entered the Bay of Bengal on Sunday, triggering strong winds and heavy rains, affecting a fringe of neighboring Bangladesh and a wide area of ​​Rakhine state in western Myanmar. It made landfall near the township of Sittwe with winds of 130 mph (209 kph) before being upgraded to a tropical depression on Monday as it moved inland.

The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs observed that there has been widespread destruction of homes and infrastructure in Rakhine State.

“Immediate needs include shelter, clean water, food aid and medical services,” the agency said. “There are recent concerns in flooded areas about the spread of waterborne diseases and the displacement of landmines,” a legacy of decades of civil strife in Myanmar.

“The impact of the cyclone was also felt in the north-west of the country, where houses were washed away by wind or water. Heavy rains and winds have also damaged camps for displaced persons in Kachin state.”

Refugee camps in Bangladesh, where more than 700,000 Rohingya Muslims fled to escape a brutal anti-insurgency campaign in 2017, escaped direct hit from the storm and no deaths were reported, thanks to a well-organized evacuation. But the houses were seriously damaged.

Many Rohingya who remained in Myanmar after losing their homes to attacks by security forces in 2017 have settled in overcrowded displacement camps on the outskirts of Sittwe, where fragile homes in low-lying areas were apparently swept away by storm surge Were.

There are fears that there may be many deaths in the Sittwe camps, but independent confirmation is difficult due to the conditions left behind by the storm and government restrictions aimed at isolating the camps.

A Rohingya doing humanitarian work in one of the camps said by phone on Thursday that authorities had ordered him not to release information to the media.

Nation World News Desk
Nation World News Desk
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