Cyclone Mocha strikes Bangladesh and Myanmar coast with intensity

Cyclone Mocha, equivalent to a category-five storm, lashes Bangladesh and Myanmar coast with heavy rain and winds up to 195kph (120mph), posing a risk of dangerous flooding.

There are concerns that the cyclone could affect Cox’s Bazar, the world’s largest refugee camp, housing nearly one million people, as storm surges of up to four meters pose a threat to low-lying areas.

Cyclone Mocha is predicted to be the strongest storm in Bangladesh in almost 20 years, prompting the evacuation of approximately 500,000 individuals to safer locations.

Shelters in schools and monasteries in Cox’s Bazar are now filled to capacity, raising concerns about overcrowding. Local police have been urging people to seek shelter and stay away from the beach area. The government has issued a landslide warning due to the expected heavy rainfall on Sunday.

The Bangladeshi meteorological department reported a maximum sustained wind speed of approximately 195 kilometers per hour (120 miles per hour) within a radius of about 75 kilometers (45 miles) from the center of the cyclone, accompanied by gusts and squalls reaching 215 kilometers per hour.

As Cyclone Mocha approached, high winds caused a telecom tower in the city of Sittwe, Myanmar, to collapse. Social media videos captured roofs being ripped off houses and billboards being hurled from buildings in Yangon, accompanied by heavy rainfall. Similarly, in Bangladesh, gale force winds began to blow along with intense downpours.

According to Dr. MM Malik, a meteorologist at the government storm warning center in Dhaka, the cyclone is yet to make landfall and is predicted to do so at 15:00 (09:00 GMT). With a diameter of 520km, it is expected to take some time to cross the area.

As part of the preparation, nearby airports were closed, fishermen were instructed to halt their work, and 1,500 shelters were established to relocate people from vulnerable areas to safer locations.

The predicted heavy rainfall from Cyclone Mocha poses a significant risk of triggering landslides, particularly for those residing in hillside camps where landslips are a frequent occurrence.

There are specific concerns for the safety of Rohingya refugees residing in makeshift homes in the camps of Cox’s Bazaar, as well as people along the western coast of Myanmar.

The UN Humanitarian Coordinator, A.I. Ramanathan Balakrishnan, expressed deep concern over the cyclone hitting an area already facing humanitarian challenges. He described it as a nightmare scenario, with significant impact on vulnerable populations who have been greatly affected by ongoing crises.

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By Ryan

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