Cyclone Mora has made landfall in Bangladesh after hundreds of thousands of people were evacuated from low- lying parts of the country. Scores of refugee homes for Rohingya Muslims were flattened.

Cyclone Mora lashed Bangladesh's southeast coast early Tuesday, packing storm surges and winds of more than 135 kilometers (85 miles) per hour, officials said.

The low-lying delta nation had bumped up its weather danger alert to its highest level and at least 350,000 people were moved to shelters as the storm approached.

"They have been evacuated to at least 400 cyclone shelters, schools and government offices in the coastal areas," Golam Mostofa, the senior government bureaucrat coordinating the evacuation told Agence France Presse.

Refugee homes 'flattened'

The storm tore through thousands of temporary homes set up for Rohingya refugees who had fled violence in neighboring Myanmar, Rohingya officials told Reuters. Around 200,000 people from the Muslim minority were being sheltered in the coastal Cox's Bazaar district.

Rohingya community leader Shamsul Alam said almost all the 10,000 thatched huts in the Balukhali and Kutupalong camps destroyed. "Most of the temporary houses in the camps have been flattened," he said.

Omar Farukh, a community leader in Kutapalong camp, said conditions were dire: "Now we're in the open air."

Some low-lying areas around the main port city of Chittagong - home to millions of people - were inundated by storm surges, authorities said. They added, however, that the storm was not as bad as they had anticipated.

Cyclone Mora formed as a result of monsoon rains that triggered floods and landslides in Sri Lanka, killing at least 180 people in recent days. Bangladesh is frequently hit by deadly storms between April and December. Twenty people were killed when Cyclone Roanu hit the southern coast in May last year.

"This time we are more prepared," disaster management authority spokesman Abul Hashim said.

First published May 30, 2017 

nm/ (AFP, Reuters)


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