Typhoon Mocha Moves towards Myanmar and Bangladesh

The storm expected to be the strongest to hit Myanmar in more than a decade made landfall near the Bangladesh border on Sunday, raising fears of a humanitarian catastrophe.

The storm moved ashore Sunday afternoon in coastal areas around Cox's Bazar, according to Bangladesh's meteorological department. The Bangladeshi city is home to the largest refugee camp in the world.

As of Sunday morning, maximum sustained winds had reached 160 miles per hour, with gusts exceeding 180 miles per hour, according to Joint Typhoon Warning Centermaking it a Category 5 hurricane. It was the highest rated at Saffir-Simpson Scale and indicates the potential for catastrophic damage.

There have been reports from Myanmar of damaged houses and boats, and one social media user posted a clip which seems to show the moment when the communication tower was blown over by the strong wind. Video from an eyewitness in Sittwe, on the Myanmar coast, showed strong winds, flooding of streets and buildings with partially torn roofs.

Even before the typhoon moved ashore, U Hla Moe, a representative for rescue teams in the city of Tachileik, in the east of the country, said that landslides caused by heavy rains had killed two people in the early hours of Sunday when the storm hit. bury them in their house while they are sleeping. Local news media reported that at least four more people have died in the west and center of the country.

Ko Win Maung, a rescue worker in Sittwe, said the water level was now about five feet and his team went to rescue an elderly couple trapped on their roof.

“Their house is now under water,” he said.

Abdusattor Esoev, head of mission in Bangladesh for the UN Migration agency, wrote on Twitter that the typhoon damaged facilities in Rohingya refugee camps. “We need to restore it along with all the damaged shelters after the Typhoon ends,” he wrote.

Officials and storm watchers expressed cautious hope that the region could avoid the worst possible damage from the storm as it weakens inland.

Mostofa Kamal, a weather and climate researcher at the University of Saskatchewan, wrote on social media that when the center of the storm started to pass between Saint Martin Island and Maungdaw District in Myanmar, the tides receded. This reduces the effects of storm surge.

“So far, the cyclone has passed through the northern coastal area of ​​Cox's Bazar, and no reports of damage have been received yet,” said Muhammad Shaheen Imran, district administrator.

The Bangladesh Meteorological Center said on Sunday that the center of the typhoon had crossed Cox's Bazar at 3pm, and would finish crossing the coast by Sunday evening and weaken gradually.

The storm, Typhoon Mocha, formed in the southern Bay of Bengal on Thursday and battered western Myanmar as it churned to the northeast, with heavy rains, strong winds and storm surge, according to the report. Global Disaster Alert and Coordination System.

Days before the storm hit, Myanmar and Bangladesh began deploying thousands of volunteers and ordered an evacuation from the lowlands, in a region that is home to some of the world's poorest people, which is especially vulnerable to increasingly severe weather events.

In Myanmar, the risk of collapse is exacerbated by civil war causing displacement about 1.8 million people across the country, with areas south of the Bangladesh border being an active fighting zone and home to several large refugee camps.

A spokesperson for Assistance Association for Political Prisonersan independent monitoring group in Myanmar, expressed concern for those behind bars because the flood threatens prison.

In Cox's Bazar, more than 200,000 people have been sent to 1,600 shelters. There is capacity to accommodate around 500,000 people, according to district officials. More than one million Rohingya live in sprawling camps.

The Educational Organization for Risk of Explosive Weapons in Myanmar also issued a warning to the public about the dangers posed by landmines and unexploded ordnance during storms.

With this storm's intensity, storm surge — the wind-driven protrusion of water as the storm approaches the coast — has become a major concern near the typhoon's landing and south of it. Storm surge is often the greatest threat to life and property, according to the Hurricane Center.

Mocha looks set to be the strongest storm to make landfall in Myanmar since Cyclone Giri, which in 2010 brought winds of 143 miles per hour, according to the report. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's historic cyclone track. The storm kills minimum 45 people in Burmese.

The term “cyclone” refers to a type of tropical cyclone — a general term for all such storms, such as typhoons and typhoons — that form in the Bay of Bengal or the Arabian Sea, both in the northern Indian Ocean. Scientists say that climate change has helped intensify the storms, as the unusually warm ocean temperatures provide more energy to propel them.

Typhoon Mocha comes as a deadly heat wave has been sweeping Southeast Asia for weeks. In April, Dhaka, the capital city of Bangladesh, hit 105.1 degrees Fahrenheit, its highest temperature in six decades.

The Bay of Bengal, in the northeastern part of the Indian Ocean, has a long history of major storms. In 2008, Cyclone Nargis became the second deadliest tropical cyclone on record and the deadliest in Myanmar, killing more than 135,000 people. In 2007, Cyclone Sidr hit Bangladesh, killing more than 3,000 people.