Thousands Flee Homes as Cyclone Mocha Nears Myanmar’s Coast

By The Irrawaddy 13 May 2023

Hundreds of thousands of Rakhine citizens have left their homes before Cyclone Mocha, which is currently above the Bay of Bengal, is due to hit the state near Sittwe on Sunday afternoon.

Wind speeds of up to 185km per hour are being forecast by the World Meteorology Organization.

Red-level disaster warnings have been issued for Sittwe, Kyaukphyu, Maungdaw, Rathedaung, Myebon, Pauktaw and Munaung townships by Myanmar’s junta with similar warnings from the civilian National Unity Government.

Arakan Army (AA) spokesman Khaing Thu Kha said it has evacuated around 102,000 Rakhine residents since Wednesday, providing healthcare and food. He called on international organizations to assist after the storm as there were limits to the AA’s capacity.

Around 75 percent of residents of Sittwe Township, which has a population of more than 100,000, have left their homes, according to writer Wai Hin Aung, who has assisted the process.

Approximately 15,000 people from Sittwe and nearby villages have been sheltering in monasteries on Arr Jate hill in the town.

Sittwe residents take shelter at a monastery on Arr Jate hill in the city.

Wai Hin Aung said there was an urgent need for food, medicine and toilets.

“No international organization has contacted us,” he told the Irrawaddy.

Around 2,000 villagers from coastal Rathedaung Township have been sheltering in monasteries and schools in Sayti Pyin village, according to volunteer U Aye Aung.

“The Arakan Army warned residents to move and people are still entering our village because we are inland,” he told The Irrawaddy.

A Pauktaw Township resident said the AA was using boats to evacuate the elderly and children and distribute food.