Cyclone Mora that lashed Bangladesh's coastlines forcing the evacuation of millions of people and shutting the country's main port and river transport, killed at least six people in Cox’s Bazar and Rangamati before moving to India’s North-East.
The cyclone, which lashed the coastal belt with a wind speed of 128 kmph and made landfall at around 6 a.m. on Tuesday, cut off Kutubdia, Moheshkhali and Teknaf from other parts of the country. Road transportation was affected, phone lines were disrupted, more than 20,000 houses destroyed and hundreds of trees were uprooted.
The Disaster Management Ministry said it moved to safety more than 2.5 million people in 10 coastal districts which were most vulnerable to the tropical storm as the Met Office upgraded the cyclone warning to Great Danger No. 10, the highest level. About 18 million people live in 19 coastal districts, 10 of them in high-risk areas.
The country's main seaport, Chittagong, suspended container handling. All flights from Chittagong’s Shah Amanat International Airport were cancelled from Tuesday morning to this afternoon. The Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Authority or BIWTA has suspended the operations of all river transports.
Over 15,000 homes were damaged in Cox’s Bazar alone, said local administration officials. Nearly 70% homes have been damaged on the Saint Martin’s island, some 9 km south of the tip of the Cox's Bazar-Teknaf peninsula and the southernmost part of Bangladesh. However, no casualty has been reported so far in the area, as residents have already been moved to shelters.
The government has ordered two navy ships to move to the St. Martin Island with relief materials.
The Cox’s Bazar district's disaster management office said that more than 200,000 people were moved to the 538 cyclone shelters. The local administration said 88 medical units, 6,010 local volunteers and 15,000 Red Crescent volunteers were kept on standby.
Rohingya camps ravaged
The cyclone has also ravaged nearly 10,000 thatched huts in Balukhali and Kutupalong camps in Cox’s Bazar district, which were used as camps for the Rohingya refugees from Myanmar. Cox’s Bazar provides shelter for an estimated 200,000 Rohingyas, who fled Myanmar to escape persecution.
Shamsul Alam, a Rohingya community leader, said almost all the 10,000 thatched huts in the Balukhali and Kutupalong camps had been destroyed in the storm. Omar Farukh, another community leader in Kutapalong camp, said conditions were dire: “Now we are in the open air.”
An estimated 75,000 Muslim Rohingyas are believed to have fled to Bangladesh since the Burmese army launched an operation in response to insurgent attacks in October last year. When contacted, a UN official working with Rohingya refugees said the damage in the camps could not be assessed instantly.