Sat, 09 Dec 2023

RAKHINE STATE, Myanmar - According to Myanmar's ruling military, Cyclone Mocha killed at least 145 people this week.

The impoverished western state of Rakhine bore the brunt of the storm, which blew down houses, communication towers, and bridges on Sunday and triggered a storm surge that inundated the state capital Sittwe.

According to a statement issued by the military government on Friday, 145 people had been found dead as of May 18, including 91 in IDP camps.

A humanitarian organization working in the affected area said earlier this week that hundreds of people were killed.

Rakhine is home to approximately 600,000 Rohingya people, a persecuted Muslim minority that successive governments in predominantly Buddhist Myanmar have refused to recognize.

"Relief groups from respective states... are working on rescues and rehabilitation work alongside charity civil society groups," the military government said via Telegram and Myanmar Radio and Television (MRTV).

However, the United Nations and other non-governmental organizations said relief efforts were stalled because they were waiting for permission from the military to send personnel and much-needed food, water, and medical supplies to the affected areas.

According to the UN, at least 800,000 people require emergency food and other assistance.

The World Food Program (WFP) described "a trail of devastation" across Rakhine State.

"Houses were flattened, uprooted trees cut off roads, hospitals and schools were destroyed, and telecommunications and power lines were severely disrupted," Anthea Webb, World Food Program's deputy regional director for Asia and the Pacific, told reporters in Geneva via video link from Bangkok.

"There are at least 800,000 people in urgent need of emergency food assistance," she said, adding that "greater needs for food, shelter, water, health, and other humanitarian aid are expected to be revealed as we reach more areas."

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