Super Cyclone Mocha: Bangladesh and Myanmar Brace for Impact
Bangladesh and Myanmar were on high alert Sunday as a severe cyclone made its way towards their coastal regions, prompting authorities to strongly advise several individuals in both countries to seek asylum immediately.
The outer band of Cyclone Mocha reached the coast of Myanmar’s Rakhine State on Sunday morning. On Sunday, the Myanmar Meteorological Department said that by the afternoon, the center of the storm is expected to land near the town of Sittwe, in a high weather alert.
More than 4,000 of Sittwe’s 300,000 residents have been evacuated to other cities since Friday. More than 20,000 people are sheltering in sturdy buildings such as monasteries, temples and schools on the city’s hills, said Tin Nyin O, who is helping people in shelters in Sittwe.
He added that many local residents live in areas more than 3 meters above sea level, where residents believe the storm cannot reach.
On Sunday morning, strong winds of 40 to 48 kilometers per hour (25 to 40 mph) were blowing into the city, Tin Ninh Oo said.
“The storm has not entered yet, so we do not have many difficulties. However, there are many people in shelters and there are not enough toilets.
Lin Lin, head of a local charity, said earlier that there was not enough food in shelters in Sittwe after more people arrived than expected.
In most parts of Bangladesh, the weather remained sunny and humid Sunday morning.
UN agencies and aid workers in Bangladesh have stockpiled tons of dry food and dozens of ambulances with mobile medical teams in the sprawling refugee camps housing more than a million Rohingya who have fled persecution in Myanmar.
Bangladesh has issued its loudest danger signal for Cox’s Bazar, home to the camps. In addition, the Bangladesh Meteorological Department warned that the cyclone may cause severe damage to lives and property in eight coastal districts.
Until Sunday morning, no heavy rains were reported in Cox’s Bazar. However, authorities said 1.27 million people in the region had been evacuated.
The sea was rough
Fisher Jamaluddin in Cox’s Bazar said local officials and volunteers were helping at the cyclone shelter. “We are asking people to move to safe places. We are trying to stay safe,” he said.
“The weather is not good. We are following the instructions of the Meteorological Department. We are now thinking about what to do,” he said.
With over 160 million people, Bangladesh has prepared more than 1,500 cyclone shelters. The Navy said it maintains 21 ships, maritime patrol aircraft and helicopters ready for rescue and relief operations.
Authorities in Bangladesh said heavy rains caused by the cyclone could trigger landslides in Chattogram, Cox’s Bazar and three other mountainous districts – Rangamati, Bandarban and Kagrachari.
Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has ordered officials to prepare for evacuations and rescue operations.
The junior minister for disaster management, Inamur Rahman, said the island of St. Martin in the Bay of Bengal could face greater dangers and that the government had prepared 37 cyclone shelters to accommodate the 8,500 people there.
In May 2008, Cyclone Nargis struck Myanmar with a storm wave that devastated populated areas around the Irrawaddy River Delta. At least 138,000 people died, and thousands of homes and other buildings were swept away.
Cyclones in the Bay of Bengal are becoming more intense and faster, in part because of climate change, said Roxy Mathew Kaul, a climatologist at the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology in Pune.
Climate scientists say hurricanes can now hold power for several days. Cyclone Amphan in eastern India in 2020 continued to travel overland as a severe cyclone and cause widespread destruction.
“As long as the oceans are warm and the winds are favorable, hurricanes will retain their strength for much longer,” Cole said.
Cyclones are among the most destructive natural disasters in the world, most notably if they affect the densely populated coastal regions of South Asia.
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