Dhaka: Cyclone Mora battered Bangladesh on Tuesday, killing five people and seriously damaging a camp housing thousands of Rohingya refugees who had fled violence in Myanmar.
Authorities said they evacuated nearly 600,000 people from vulnerable areas before the storm hit the coastal district of Cox’s Bazar early on Tuesday, bringing winds of up to 135 kilometres per hour. Disaster management authorities said five people had been killed, four of them crushed by falling trees in the area.
It was not immediately clear how the fifth person died. Some of the worst damage was at camps housing the 300,000 Rohingya refugees living in Cox’s Bazar, many of them in flimsy huts. The local head of the International Organisation for Migration, which coordinates relief for the refugees, said the bulk of the homes at one camp had their roofs blown off. “We’re already in the field.
At Kutupalong camp, which I am visiting now, some 60-70 per cent of the plastic roofs have been blown away. Some mud walls have collapsed,” Sanjukta Sahany said. Kutupalong houses nearly 14,000 registered refugees, although many more recent arrivals who lack official refugee status are also said to be living there. Community leaders said there had been no attempt to evacuate undocumented Rohingya, although those with official refugee status were alerted about the dangers. Abdul Salam, a Rohingya community leader, said around 20,000 homes had been damaged and some residents injured.
Cox’s Bazar has for years been home to hundreds of thousands of Rohingya, a stateless minority living mostly in Myanmar. Their numbers have swelled since a brutal crackdown last October by the Myanmar military sent 70,000 fleeing across the border into Bangladesh. Away from the camps, authorities had evacuated nearly 600,000 people to cyclone shelters, schools and offices after raising the highest number 10 weather danger alert.
Cyclone Mora comes days after heavy rains in Sri Lanka killed at least 193 people, many of them buried under landslides, and brought the worst flooding the island has seen in 14 years. — AFP