The death toll in typhoon-hit Myanmar rose to 60 on Tuesday, according to local leaders and junta-backed media, as villagers tried to piece together broken homes and waited for aid and support.
Carrying winds of up to 195 kilometers (120 miles) per hour, Mocha made landfall on Sunday, toppling electricity pylons and smashing wooden fishing boats to splinters.
In Rakhine state, at least 41 people were killed in the villages of Bu Ma and nearby Khaung Doke Kar, home to the persecuted Rohingya Muslim minority, local leaders told AFP reporters. in the scene.
Thirteen people were killed when a monastery collapsed in a village in Rathedaung town north of the Rakhine capital Sittwe, and a woman died when a building collapsed in a neighboring village, according to on Myanmar’s state broadcaster MRTV.
“There are many dead, because more than a hundred people are missing,” said Karlo, the head of the village of Bu Ma near Sittwe.
Nearby, Aa Bul Hu Son, 66, prayed at the grave of his daughter, whose body was recovered on Tuesday morning.
“I wasn’t in good health before the typhoon, so we delayed moving to another place,” he told AFP.
“While we were thinking about moving, the waves immediately came and took us away.”
“I just found his body in the lake in the village and buried it immediately. I can’t find words to express my loss.”
Some residents walked the beach looking for family members who were swept away by a storm surge that accompanied the typhoon, AFP reporters said.
State media reported five deaths on Monday, without providing details.
Mocha was the strongest storm to hit the area in more than a decade, ravaging villages, uprooting trees and cutting communications across much of Rakhine state.
China said it was “ready to provide emergency disaster relief assistance”, according to a statement on its embassy’s Facebook page in Myanmar.
‘No one came to ask’
The United Nations refugee office said it was investigating reports that Rohingya living in displacement camps had been killed in the storm.
It is “working to initiate rapid needs assessments in affected areas” in Rakhine state, it added.
Widely viewed as interlopers in Myanmar, the Rohingya are denied citizenship and health care, and require permission to travel outside their villages in western Rakhine state.
Many still live in camps after being displaced by decades of ethnic conflict in the state.
In neighboring Bangladesh, officials told AFP that no one had died in the storm, which passed near scattered refugee camps housing nearly a million Rohingya who fled Myanmar’s military crackdown in 2017. .
“Although the storm’s impact could have been worse, refugee camps have been badly affected, leaving thousands in dire need of assistance,” the UN said as it made an urgent appeal for aid. on Monday.
Hurricanes — the equivalent of North Atlantic hurricanes or Northwest Pacific hurricanes — are a regular and deadly threat to the northern Indian Ocean coast where tens of millions of people live.
Non-profit ClimateAnalytics said rising temperatures may have contributed to Hurricane Mocha’s strength.
“We saw sea surface temperatures in the Bay of Bengal last month that were significantly higher than 20 years ago,” said the group’s Peter Pfleiderer.
“Warmer oceans allow storms to gather power, quickly, and this has devastating consequences for people.”
On Tuesday, contact was gradually restored in Sittwe, home to around 150,000 people, AFP reporters said, with roads cleared and internet connections re-established.
Photos released by state media showed Rakhine-bound aid being loaded onto a ship in the commercial hub of Yangon.
Rohingya villagers told AFP they had not received any aid.
“No government, no organization has come to our village,” said Kyaw Swar Win, 38, from Barangay Basara.
“We haven’t eaten for two days… We can’t get anything and all I can say is that no one has even come to ask.”