Three killed, roofs torn off as Cyclone Mocha makes landfall in Myanmar

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Thousands of people hunkered down on Sunday 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 with wind speeds up to 209 kilometres per hour, Myanmar’s Meteorological Department said. Earlier, the storm passed over Bangladesh’s Saint Martin’s Island, causing damage and injuring people, but turned away from the country’s shores before landfall.

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 kilometres 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, and that people in low-lying areas were trapped in their houses and unable to communicate.

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 3,00,000 residents were evacuated to other cities and more than 20,000 people are sheltering in sturdy buildings such as monasteries, pagodas and schools located on the city’s highlands, said a volunteer in Sittwe.

Titon Mitra, the U.N. Development Program representative in Myanmar, tweeted: “Mocha has made landfall. 2 million people at risk. Damage and losses are expected to be extensive. We are ready to respond.”

Roxy Mathew Koll, a scientist at the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology in Pune, said cyclones in the Bay of Bengal are becoming more intense more quickly, in part because of climate change.

The Hindu

(International)

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