Cyclone Mora Flattens Hundreds of Homes in Arakan State

By Moe Myint 30 May 2017

RANGOON – Cyclone Mora destroyed hundreds of structures and ripped roofs off buildings in Arakan State on Tuesday, including flattening shelters in camps for internally displaced persons (IDPs).

There were no immediate reports of casualties and authorities were working to assess the damage, according to Lt-Col Win Naung of Sittwe Township police.

U Kyaw Hla Aung, from Thet Kay Pyin IDP camp on the outskirts of Sittwe and a member of the Rohingya community widely affected by the cyclone, told The Irrawaddy on Tuesday that hundreds of structures in his area were blown to the ground.

The cyclone struck at 9 p.m. on Monday night and eased on Tuesday afternoon, with rain and wind continuing all day, he said, adding that he had heard of damage to “almost every” IDP camp along the Arakan coast.

U Tun Tha, a teacher in Thae Chaung IDP camp, said the cyclone had destroyed 50 houses and taken the roofs off 200 bamboo houses in the camp.

There were reports that downed telephone lines were hampering communication in Maungdaw Township along the border with Bangladesh.

Some 50 buildings were destroyed in Khaung Doke Kar IDP camp, each home to about eight families, according to a local resident.

The UN Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs estimates 120,000 people remain displaced in Arakan State following riots in 2012 and subsequent flaring of violence.

Arakan State chief minister U Nyi Pu was working with the fire department, the electricity department, police, and the army to check damage around Sittwe on Tuesday, according to his Facebook page.

The Irrawaddy telephoned regional social welfare minister Dr. Chan Tha for comment but he replied that he was in a meeting.

Authorities evacuated 350,000 people from the effects of Cyclone Mora in Bangladesh. The storm caused severe damage to refugee camps housing Rohingya refugees from northern Arakan State near Cox’s Bazar.

Shamsul Alam, a Rohingya community leader, told Reuters that damage in the camps was severe with almost all the 10,000 thatched huts in the Balukhali and Kutupalong camps destroyed.

Cox’s Bazar district chief Mohammad Ali Hussin said at least 15,000 houses in the district had been destroyed and he had unconfirmed reports of three people killed and dozens injured, including several Rohingya refugees, Reuters reported.

The cyclone killed at least 177 people in recent days, with widespread floods and landslides in Sri Lanka and 24 killed by lightning strikes and collapsed village huts in the eastern Indian state of Bihar.

Cyclone Komen crossed coastal Arakan State in 2015 and brought severe flooding and landslides, claiming 132 lives and displacing 1.6 million people across Burma, according to a World Bank report.