REFILE - CORRECTING BYLINE Debris of houses is seen after a flood affected a village in Matara, Sri Lanka May 29, 2017. Sri Lanka Air Force/Handout via REUTERS

Cyclone wreaks havoc in Bangladesh refugee camps

A cyclone battered refugee camps in Bangladesh on Tuesday where hundreds of thousands of Rohingya Muslims from Myanmar have taken refuge from violence at home, as authorities moved at least 350,000 Bangladeshis out of harm’s way.
Cyclone Mora struck the island of Saint Martin and Teknaf in the coastal Bangladeshi district of Cox’s Bazar, where officials said some 200,000 people were evacuated to shelters. In Chittagong district, about 150,000 people were evacuated.
The border area is also home to refugee camps for Rohingyas who have fled their homeland in northwest Myanmar.
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.
“Most of the temporary houses in the camps have been flattened,” Alam said.
Omar Farukh, a community leader in Kutupalong camp, said conditions were dire: “Now we’re in the open air.”
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.
Officials in Chittagong reported winds gusting up to 135 kph (85 mph), and said low-lying coastal areas were flooded by a storm surge with waves 2 meters (7 feet) high.
Flights in the area were canceled.
Last October, following a Myanmar army operation launched in response to insurgent attacks, an estimated 74,000 Rohingyas fled to Bangladesh where they joined more than 200,000 who have taken refuge there over the years. Reuters