Myanmar: Myanmar raises Cyclone Mocha death toll to 54, but extent of damage remains unknown

BANGKOK (Reuters) – At least 54 people were killed and more than 185,000 buildings damaged in Myanmar by a powerful cyclone last weekend, state broadcaster MRTV reported on Thursday.
Communication difficulties in affected areas, where infrastructure was already poor, and the military government’s tight control over information make it difficult to clearly determine the true extent of loss and destruction.
Cyclone Mocha roared in from the Bay of Bengal on Sunday with strong winds and rain battering a corner of neighboring Bangladesh and a wider swath of western Myanmar. Rakhine State. He made landfall near Rakhine sittwe township with winds of up to 209 kilometers (130 miles) per hour before weakening to a tropical depression at noon Monday as it moved inland.
The UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said large-scale destruction of homes and infrastructure had been observed across Rakhine state.
“Urgent needs include shelter, clean water, food aid and health services,” he said. “There are growing concerns in flooded areas about the spread of waterborne diseases and the movement of landmines,” a legacy of Myanmar’s decades-long civil conflict.
“The impact of the cyclone was also strongly felt in the northwest of the country, where houses were blown up or washed away. Strong winds and rains also damaged IDP camps in Kachin state,” the UN agency said.
Refugee camps in Bangladesh, where more than 700,000 members of Myanmar’s Muslim community Rohingya minority fled in 2017 to escape a brutal counter-insurgency campaign, missed the brunt of the storm with no reports of fatalities, thanks in part to a well-organized evacuation, but housing was badly damaged.
Many Rohingya who remained in Myanmar after being left homeless following attacks by security forces in 2017 have been settled in overcrowded displacement camps on the outskirts of Sittwe, where their dilapidated low-lying homes are believed to have been swept away. by the storm surge.
There are fears that there are many deaths in the Sittwe camps, but independent confirmation is difficult due to post-storm conditions and long-standing government restrictions designed to isolate the camps.
“Bridges collapsed west of Sittwe town center after #CycloneMocha leaving only one access route to camps in the area,” Ben Small, who works for the United Nations Development Agency in Myanmar. “This further hampers humanitarian access. They are in urgent need of repair.
A Rohingya who does humanitarian work in one of the camps said Thursday by telephone that he had been ordered by authorities not to provide information to the media.
Rakhine State Spokesperson and Attorney General Hla Thein cautiously denied reports that hundreds of people had died, saying only 46 deaths in the state had been confirmed so far, among other ethnic groups as well as the Rohingyas. He said confirming new deaths would require investigations, including inspections of burial sites.
Hla Thein said authorities warned camp residents to move to safer locations days before the storm hit, but some stayed until seawater poured in, wreaking havoc. . He said the government was trying to send relief to affected areas and there were no restrictions on relief organizations in sending aid, a claim that could not be confirmed in the immediate.
A leader of a local charity group helping to collect data on casualties inside Rohingya camps and nearby villages said Thursday that the bodies of at least 116 people from 15 camps and villages, including 32 children and 46 women, had received funeral rites.
He asked that neither he nor his organization be identified due to possible sanctions from the authorities.
The charity worker said reports of a higher death toll may have resulted from misunderstandings due to communication breakdowns which also prevented authorities from getting an accurate count.
The Associated Press could not independently confirm any of the casualty figures.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

GreenLeaf Tw2sl