Myanmar: Cyclone Mocha - Flash Update #3 (as of 14 May 2023)
Extremely Severe Cyclone Mocha crossed the coast between Cox’s Bazar in Bangladesh and Kyaukpyu township in Myanmar at lunchtime on 14 May (local time) packing winds estimated at around 250 kmph, making it one of the strongest cyclones on record in the country.
Heavy rains, storm surge and strong winds have been recorded across the affected areas throughout the day with flooding in low-lying areas of Rakhine, particularly in and around the state capital, Sittwe.
Thousands of people spent the day sheltering in evacuation centres and in relatives’ houses inland from the coast, where they will remain tonight until the winds subside.
The ongoing wild weather in Rakhine and telecommunications interruptions mean it has not yet been possible to assess the full magnitude of the disaster, but early reports suggest the damage is extensive and needs among already vulnerable communities, particularly displaced people, will be high.
The UN and its humanitarian partners have spent the week preparing for the cyclone’s arrival and have been pre-positioning stocks and personnel ready to assess and respond to needs as soon as it is safe to do so. With the cyclone now losing intensity and moving inland, humanitarian teams plan to begin this work tomorrow.
An urgent injection of funds is desperately needed to facilitate a full-scale response to the impacts of the cyclone and subsequent flooding. To date, the US$764M Humanitarian Response Plan is only 10 per cent funded.
Extremely Severe Cyclone Mocha made landfall at 1230hrs on 14 May, crossing the coast between Kyaukpyu township (close to Sittwe) in Myanmar and Cox’s Bazar in Bangladesh with stronger than expected winds. The cyclone approached the coast with maximum sustained wind speeds of roughly 250 kmph, according to the Joint Typhoon Warning Center (JTWC). Storm surge estimated at 3-3.5 meters has inundated low lying areas in Rakhine and the adjoining southeast Bangladesh coast this afternoon, with significant water entering Sittwe around 1400hrs, flooding many parts of the town.
Extremely strong winds have knocked down power lines, uprooted trees, and damaged and destroyed houses. Communications with the affected areas are currently limited after extensive damage to telecommunications towers during the cyclone. Partners are reporting slow or non-existent internet, with zero connectivity in some areas which is hampering the collection of information on impacts tonight. Early reports indicate significant damage to houses and other infrastructure in Sittwe and Gwa townships, including roofs being torn off homes. Local media reported people unable to leave their homes in Sittwe due to the storm surge and rising water. Evacuations of displacement camps and residential areas in low-lying took place prior to the cyclone’s arrival but it is not clear if everyone in the path of the cyclone was able to reach these sites and at least some of these evacuation centres were damaged by the strong winds at the peak of the cyclone.
There is no confirmation yet of damage levels in the northern townships of Maungdaw and Buthidaung where more than half of the shelters are either temporary or semi-permanent, placing households at very high risk in case they were not able to reach evacuation centres. No confirmed reports have yet been received of significant damage in Ayeyarwady.
The weather system is weakening as it continues to move towards the country’s Northwest. It will weaken into a depression by 15 May over Sagaing before moving towards Kachin. Heavy rainfall and winds are expected over the coming days as it moves across the country through areas that are highly prone to flooding and/or landslides.