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Cyclone Mocha destroys camp housing 700 in Myanmar’s Magway region

As news slowly emerges about the extent of damage caused by Sunday’s cyclone, residents of a township in Myanmar’s Magway region told RFA Wednesday that Mocha destroyed a displaced persons camp housing more than 700 people.

The cyclone brought torrential rains, causing a local creek to burst its banks and flood the camp in Tilin township’s Htan Pin Kone village on Sunday, according to one resident, who wished to remain anonymous for security reasons.

He said it destroyed all the 200 tents in the camp, set up on the banks of the creek.

People were forced to move to the camp because junta troops repeatedly carried out maneuvers near Htan Pin Kone village, which has around 250 houses, the resident told RFA Wednesday.

“The troop pass near Htan Pin Kone village whenever they conduct offensives on the western part of Tilin township, so the village is quite insecure. That’s why the whole village moved to a safer place, so there are a lot of displaced people,” he said.

According to the latest report from the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) 2,462 people were relocated from their homes in two Magway townships before the cyclone hit.

It said 3,676 houses in 98 villages in the region were damaged by heavy rains and flash floods.

Cyclone Mocha hit Myanmar’s coast Sunday with winds reaching over 220 kilometers per hour (137 mph).

Preliminary figures compiled exclusively by RFA confirmed at least 31 deaths due to the cyclone in Rakhine and Chin states, and Ayeyarwady, Magway and Sagaing regions.

On Tuesday, the National Unity Government updated its estimated death toll to 435 across the country, with an unspecified number still missing.

The United Nations said Tuesday that 16 million people were potentially exposed to Mocha, including more than 1.2 million who were already internally displaced. 

Its Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) said early estimates indicated nearly 3.2 million people in Rakhine state and Myanmar’s northwest were the most vulnerable and considered likely to have humanitarian needs in the wake of the cyclone.

The International Rescue Committee said Wednesday is deeply concerned about the communities, especially those living in displaced persons camps.

It said it is responding to the needs of communities affected by Cyclone Mocha in Bangladesh and Myanmar and appealed for more funding for humanitarian work in Myanmar.

Translated by RFA Burmese. Edited by Mike Firn.