Cyclone Komen Drenches Western Burma, Expected to Move Northwest

By Moe Myint 30 July 2015

RANGOON — Effects of Cyclone Komen are beginning to unfold as reports emerge of severe flooding and heavy winds in western Burma’s Arakan State.

The tropical depression over the Bay of Bengal formed into a cyclone on Wednesday. The latest data from Burma’s meteorology department placed the storm about 85 miles northwest of Maungdaw with winds up to 50mph.

The department has issued a storm warning predicting that Komen should make landfall on the coast of Bangladesh this afternoon before moving northwest and weakening.

The maximum storm surge has been forecast at 8 to 10 feet in Maungdaw district and 6 to 8 feet in the capital Sittwe, the department said, warning of heavy rain, strong wind, flash floods and landslides throughout adjacent states and in central Burma.

Sources in Sittwe said that markets, schools and community buildings have shut down in at least three Arakan State townships as of Thursday morning: Minbyar, Kyauktaw and Mrauk U.

Thein Win, director of the Wunlark Development Foundation, said power was out and communication is scarce in those and several other townships in the impoverished coastal state, warning that damages could outweigh regional response capacity.

“People have been facing heavy rain problems for the past month, now it has happened again and the regional government is not prepared,” Thein Win said by phone from the storm-drenched capital on Thursday.

The coastal state is among the country’s poorest, home to some 3.1 million people including more than 100,000 living in makeshift homes at camps for people displaced by communal violence.

Heavy rains have drenched much of the country for more than a week, resulting in at least 20 flood-related deaths according to government figures.