Devastation after Cyclone Pam.

Cyclone Mocha causes devastation as makes landfall in Bangladesh and Myanmar

Cyclone Mocha intensified to full strength on Sunday to a Category 5 hurricane as it approached the Bangladesh and Myanmar coasts in the Bay of Bengal, from where hundreds of thousands of people were evacuated.

The storm recorded winds of up to 259 kilometres per hour, the equivalent of a top category hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson scale, the US Joint Typhoon Warning Centre said on Sunday.

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Mocha threatens the precarious camps where hundreds of thousands of Rohingya Muslim refugees are crammed and triggers a race against time to relocate people.

At least six deaths have been reported in Burma, according to the US non-profit organisation Radio Free Asia, citing local testimonies and civil society organisations, although there is no official death toll at the moment.

According to the Indian meteorological office, Mocha is expected to weaken slightly before making landfall between Cox’s Bazar in Bangladesh and Sittwe, a town of 150,000 people in Myanmar.

On Saturday, residents of Sittwe gathered with their belongings and pets in cars, trucks and other vehicles to head for higher ground, according to AFP.

Myanmar’s junta is overseeing evacuations of coastal villages in Raijin state, official media reported, and Myanmar Airways International announced that all flights to that destination were suspended until Monday.

The cyclone has a diameter of more than 500 kilometres and its impact will be felt in many areas of Bangladesh and Myanmar, which are under high alert, according to preliminary estimates.

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“This cyclone is the most powerful storm since Cyclone Sidr,” Azizur Rahman, head of Bangladesh’s meteorological department, told AFP.

In November 2007, Sidr devastated southwestern Bangladesh, killing more than 3,000 people and causing billions of dollars in damage.

-Thailand News (TN)

TN

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