The cyclone Mocha killed at least 81 in Myanmar, according to local officials and junta-backed media on Tuesday, as people tried to repair devastated homes in hopes of receiving aid.
With winds blowing up to 195 km/h, Mocha fell on Sunday between Sittwe, capital of Rakhine State, Myanmar, and Cox’s Bazar, neighboring Bangladesh, where camps are located for Rohingyas, a stateless Muslim minority who fled the violence of the Myanmar army.
At least 46 villagers died in Khaung Doke Kar and Bu Ma, near Sittwe, local officials and residents told AFP. “There will be other deaths, because more than a hundred people are missing,” warns Karlo, head of Bu Ma.
Thirteen people were killed in the collapse of a monastery in Rathedaung township, north of Sittwe, and a woman died in a nearby town in the collapse of a building, state television reported on Tuesday. MRTV. Nine people died in the Rohingya camp of Dapaing, on the outskirts of Sittwe, its leader told AFP, stressing that the camp lacked supplies and its access roads were cut off. “People cannot come to our camp because the bridges have been destroyed,” he said. One person was killed in Ohn Taw Chay village and six others in Ohn Taw Gyi, local officials told AFP.
The latest count established Monday by the junta reported five dead and an unspecified number of wounded. It is unclear whether any of the dead from these localities were included in this count. AFP was awaiting an updated count on Tuesday, requested from a spokesperson for the junta.
Mochathe biggest storm in more than a decade in the region, also ravaged Rohingya villages and camps in Rakhine state.
“We were late to decamp”
On Tuesday morning, residents of Bu Ma roamed the seaside in search of relatives who had disappeared since the passage of the cyclone, AFP journalists noted.
Not far away, Aa Bul Hu Son, 66, had just buried her daughter, the ninth member of her family killed by the cyclone. “I just found her body in the village lake and buried her immediately,” he told AFP. “I was not in good health before the cyclone, we were slow to decamp,” he explains. “We were about to leave, suddenly the waves came up and swept us away. […] I lost my wife, four daughters, three sons and a granddaughter. »
Communications were slowly recovering in Sittwe, home to around 150,000 people, on Tuesday as roads were cleared and the internet restored, AFP journalists said.
Beijing said it was “willing to provide emergency disaster relief,” according to a statement posted by the Chinese Embassy in Myanmar on its Facebook page.
The office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said it was seeking to confirm reports that Rohingya in displacement camps had died in the storm. UNHCR is “trying to carry out detailed assessments in IDP camps and at different sites in order to get a clearer picture of the situation”, he said.
Although settled in Myanmar for generations, most Rohingyas have no access to citizenship, health or education in this predominantly Buddhist country, which the army has ruled since the coup. from February 1, 2021.
Without help or food
In Bangladesh, damage to the Rohingya refugee camps, where an estimated one million people live in 190,000 bamboo and tarpaulin shelters, was minimal “Even though the impact of the cyclone could have been much worse, the refugee camps suffered been badly affected and thousands of people are in desperate need of assistance,” the UN said in an urgent appeal for assistance.
Photos released by Myanmar state media showed aid being loaded onto a ship in Yangon and destined for Rakhine state. But according to Rohingyas, nothing has yet reached them. “No government, no organization has come to our village,” Bu Ma resident Kyaw Swar Win, 38, told AFP. “We haven’t eaten for two days. […] We haven’t received anything and no one has come to inquire about us”.
In recent years, improved weather forecasting and more efficient evacuations have drastically reduced the death toll from cyclones.
According to the organization Climate Analytics, the rise in temperatures induced by climate change may have contributed to the intensity of Mocha. “Warmer oceans allow storms to quickly gain strength, with devastating consequences for people,” said Peter Pfleiderer, a member of the organization.
In 2008, the cyclone Nargis devastated the Irrawaddy Delta in Myanmar, killing at least 138,000 people. The government at the time faced international criticism for its handling of the natural disaster, accusing it of blocking emergency aid and denying access to humanitarian workers and supplies.