Bangladeshi school children hold their school bags on their head to shelter from rain in the aftermath of Cyclone Mocha, in Dhaka, Bangladesh, 17 May 2023. EFE/EPA/MONIRUL ALAM

At least 130 dead in Myanmar due to Cyclone Mocha

Bangkok, May 17 (EFE).- Cyclone Mocha, which made landfall in western Myanmar during the weekend, has left at least 130 dead in camps for displaced Rohingya people near Sittwe, in the western state of Rakhine.

“I haven’t experienced such a situation in my life. It is as if the city has been bombed. The roofs of the houses are no longer there. There is nothing left,” Sittwe U Aung Aung, secretary of the Rakhine State Chamber of Commerce and Industry, told EFE on Wednesday.

The official, in his mid-fifties, said he had not been able to leave his home, while “the army and police clean the roads,” and reiterated that “there is a lot of damage, although aid programs have not yet arrived. We have to fix the house ourselves.”

According to nonprofits and UN agencies, Sittwe, the capital of Rakhine State and home to some 150,000 people, is the city most affected by Mocha.

However, the majority of the dead are expected to be concentrated in the displacement camps around the city, where more than 100,000 members of the Rohingya muslim minority reside.

Although three days have passed since its impact, the exact number of victims and the situation on the ground remains uncertain.

Sources from the Alin Yaung volunteer group, who are working in the area, told EFE that at least 130 Rohingyas from 11 displaced camps have died due to the cyclone, with the numbers expected to increase further as hundreds remain missing.

The nonprofit Partners Relief & Development, which operates in the area, tweeted that the Rohingya fields have been “decimated” by the storm and that roads remain blocked and electricity cut off.

According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) an estimated 5.4 million people were in the area impacted by the cyclone.

The violent storm that made landfall on Sunday destroyed telecommunications and access to the affected area in Rakhine, home to hundreds of thousands of members of the Rohingya Muslim minority, who are persecuted by the army and not recognized as citizens in Myanmar.

Ko Thar Shay, secretary of the Sittwe-based Metta Raya Foundation, told EFE that the distrust of the military may have led many Rohingyas to decide against evacuation before the cyclone hit.

Mocha made landfall on Sunday between the southern coast of Bangladesh and the western part of neighboring Myanmar, with sustained winds of more than 150 kilometers per hour, marking the largest storm to hit the Bay of Bengal in more than a decade. EFE