Six dead as Cyclone Mocha hits western Myanmar

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News Desk

Myanmar’s military information office said the storm had damaged houses, electrical transformers, cell phone towers, boats and lampposts

Powerful Cyclone Mocha made landfall in western Myanmar on Sunday, killing six people and bringing down trees, reported Radio Free Asia citing residents, as humanitarian agencies warned of a severe impact on “hundreds of thousands of vulnerable people.”

The cyclone had earlier on Sunday intensified to a Category Five storm, with wind speeds reaching as high as 220 kilometers per hour, according to the Myanmar Department of Meteorology and Hydrology.

At least six people have been reported dead across Myanmar.

The UN and its humanitarian partners said they are preparing a “scaled-up cyclone response.”

The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in Myanmar said before the cyclone, an estimated six million people were “already in humanitarian need” in western Myanmar’s Rakhine state, and the regions of Chin, Magway and Sagaing, where Mocha is expected to hit.

“Collectively, these states in the country’s west host 1.2 million displaced people, many of whom are fleeing conflict and are living in the open without proper shelter,” said OCHA, warning of “a nightmare scenario.”

Meanwhile, the Global Disaster Alert and Coordination System estimated the storm could affect up to 2 million people.

Roxy Mathew Koll, a climate scientist at the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology in Pune, said that Mocha is one of the biggest storms that has ever occurred in the Bay of Bengal.

“It is stronger than Nargis,” Koll said, referring to the cyclone that left nearly 140,000 people dead and missing in 2008.

Cyclone Mocha formed on Thursday, causing heavy rains and a coastal surge in Rakhine state starting on Friday.

“Cyclone frequency is more or less the same in the Bay of Bengal – but once they form, they are intensifying quickly,” the scientist said. “This is in response to warmer oceans under climate change.”

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