Bangladesh battered by Cyclone Mora

Bangladeshi villagers taking refuge in a cyclone shelter on Monday after being evacuated.
Bangladeshi villagers taking refuge in a cyclone shelter on Monday after being evacuated.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

DHAKA • Cyclone Mora battered Bangladesh yesterday, killing five people, damaging thousands of homes and ripping through 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 yesterday, bringing winds of up to 135 kmh.

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.

Authorities in Cox's Bazar said at least 17,000 homes, excluding the Rohingya shelters, had been damaged in the district, with many low-lying villages inundated by a storm surge reaching 1.3m.

Some of the worst damage was at the 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.

Mr Mohammad Anam, a Rohingya who fled to Bangladesh last year after an outbreak of violence in Myanmar, said there had been no attempt to evacuate the minority community, many of whom are undocumented.

"Nobody came to alert or evacuate us. When the storm came we rushed to local schools to take shelter," he said.

But Mr Abul Hashim, a spokesman for the disaster management department, noted that the authorities only evacuated the most vulnerable from low-lying coastal areas.

"Rohingya live in hilly areas. There is no chance for these areas to be inundated by storm surge," he said.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 31, 2017, with the headline 'Bangladesh battered by Cyclone Mora'. Print Edition | Subscribe