Thousands of people are hunkering down in monasteries, pagodas and schools, seeking shelter from a powerful storm that slammed into the coast of Myanmar, tearing the roofs off buildings and killing at least three people.
The centre of Cyclone Mocha made landfall on Sunday afternoon in Myanmar’s Rakhine state near Sittwe township wind speeds up to 209 kilometers (130 miles) per hour, Myanmar’s Meteorological Department said.
Myanmar’s military information office said the storm had damaged houses, electrical transformers, cell phone towers, boats and lampposts in Sittwe, Kyaukpyu, and Gwa townships. It said the storm also tore roofs off of sport buildings on the Coco Islands, about 425 kilometers (264 miles) southwest of the country’s largest city, Yangon.
Rakhine-based media reported that streets and basements of the houses in Sittwe’s low-lying areas were flooded. Much of the area is cut off from telephone and internet service after high winds crumpled cell phone towers.
More than 4,000 of Sittwe's 300,000 residents have been evacuated to other cities since Friday and more than 20,000 people are sheltering in sturdier buildings.
Many local people live in areas more than 3 meters above sea level, where residents believe the storm surge cannot reach, he added.
Strong winds of 40 to 48 kilometres per hour were blowing in the city, Tin Nyein Oo said on Sunday morning.
Lin Lin, the chairman of a local charitable foundation, said earlier there was not enough food in the shelters in Sittwe after more people arrived than expected.
In most of Bangladesh, the weather remained sunny and humid on Sunday morning.
Prepositioning dry food, ambulances
UN agencies and aid workers in Bangladesh prepositioned tons of dry food and dozens of ambulances with mobile medical teams in sprawling refugee camps that house more than 1 million Rohingya who fled persecution in Myanmar.
Bangladesh issued the highest danger signal for the city of Cox’s Bazar, home to the camps. The Bangladesh Meteorological Department warned the cyclone could cause severe damage to lives and property in eight coastal districts.
No heavy rainfall had been reported in Cox's Bazar as of Sunday morning. Authorities said some 1.27 million people have been evacuated in the district.
Bangladesh, with more than 160 million people, has prepared more than 1,500 cyclone shelters. The navy said it's keeping ready 21 ships, maritime patrol aircraft and helicopters for rescue and relief operations.
Authorities in Bangladesh said heavy rains from the cyclone could trigger landslides in Chattogram and Cox's Bazar and three other hilly districts — Rangamati, Bandarban and Khagrachhari.
Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has ordered officials to prepare for evacuations and rescues.