Deadly cyclone misses refugee camp, causes landslides, flooding in Myanmar

May 15 (UPI) -- Powerful Cyclone Mocha caused at least six deaths and widespread damage to the western Rakhine state capital city of Sittwe in Myanmar but missed the world's largest refugee camp at Cox's Bazar in Bangladesh on Sunday, officials said.

Mocha packed winds of 130 mph, which would have dealt a deadly blow to the hundreds of thousands living in tents and other shelters in Cox's Bazar. The storm, though, continued to cause landslides and flooding from heavy rain.


Military-controlled Myanmar appeared to have taken the brunt of the hit, with the storm cutting power to most of the Rakhine state. Camps near the area housing some of the displaced Rohingya population were destroyed. Six were reported dead from the storm in Myanmar.

"The ongoing wild weather in Rakhine and telecommunications interruptions mean it has not yet been possible to assess the full magnitude of the disaster," the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said.

"But early reports suggest the damage is extensive and needs among already vulnerable communities, particularly displaced people, will be high."

Hasina Rahman, the country director for Bangladesh, International Rescue Committee, said there was a sigh of relief that the storm did not hit Cox's Bazar, calling the storm "a close call," for thousands living in tight quarters in tents and other buildings that likely would have been swept away from such strong winds.


Bangladesh said emergency crews had evacuated 750,000 people to safer locations ahead of the storm. As the storm approached, hundreds crammed into a school in Cox's Bazar that was turned into a shelter.

Some traveled from up to two hours away on foot with cattle, chickens, goats and other livestock along with mats to sleep on. Others came from local fishing villages feeling they had no choice but to leave their vessels behind because of reports on how dangerous Mocha would be.

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