Arrow-right Camera
The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Cyclone Mocha leaves thousands homeless in Bangladesh and Myanmar

By Saif Hasnat and Suhasini Raj New York Times

Hundreds of thousands of people began repairing or rebuilding their homes and livelihoods on Monday after a deadly cyclone hit Myanmar and Bangladesh over the weekend.

The storm, named Mocha, killed several people in Myanmar, though there were conflicting accounts from leaders as to exactly how many. The Myanmar government said the number was five, but the shadow government, called the National Unity Government, which may have more sources in the country’s remote conflict zones, said it was 18.

Though the damage from the powerful storm was not as dire as predicted, there were still hundreds of thousands of Rohingya refugees left homeless, along with reports of people stranded and having to make their way through storm debris to get home.

The damage in Myanmar was mostly confined to Rakhine state, Chin state and other areas in the west, according to officials and aid workers.

Before the cyclone made landfall, its strong winds and rain tore through the tarpaulin-and-bamboo shanties of the Rohingya refugees who live in threadbare camps along Bangladesh’s coastline. More than 1 million Rohingya people sought refuge in Bangladesh after fleeing persecution in Rakhine State, and they now inhabit the world’s largest encampment.

The storm came ashore on Sunday afternoon in the coastal area around Cox’s Bazar, right at Bangladesh’s border with Myanmar, according to Bangladesh’s meteorological department. At that time, it was packing winds of up to 155 mph, according to estimates from the Joint Typhoon Warning Center just before landfall.

In Bangladesh, where no deaths were immediately reported, around 3,000 Rohingya shelters were damaged by the cyclone, and some were completely destroyed, officials said. The office of Bangladesh’s commissioner for refugees reported that 32 learning centers and 29 mosques were damaged.

The refugee camps, which stretch over rolling, muddy terrain, suffered 120 landslides during the storm, and at least 5,300 refugees were relocated to more secure locations. In the wider Cox’s Bazar region, a total of 13,000 houses were damaged or destroyed. About 250,000 people were in need of food and shelter by Sunday evening, according to Bangladesh’s government.

This article originally appeared in The New York Times.