- Written by Rajini Vaidyanathan
- BBC News, Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh
About 500,000 people have fled to safer areas in southeastern Bangladesh ahead of a potentially dangerous cyclone.
Mocha is expected to make landfall on Sunday, with winds of 170 kilometers per hour (106 miles per hour) and storm surges of up to 3.6 meters (12 feet).
There are fears that a cyclone could hit Cox’s Bazar, the world’s largest refugee camp, where nearly one million people live in temporary housing.
It’s already raining in the camp, and red warning flags have been put up.
Cyclone Mocha could be the most powerful storm observed in Bangladesh in nearly two decades.
Nearby airports are closed, fishermen are ordered to stop their work, and 1,500 people are evacuated as people in vulnerable areas move to safety as the weather system shifts toward the coasts of Bangladesh and Myanmar. place was established.
“We are ready to face any danger… we don’t want to lose a single life,” Cox’s Bazar Deputy Commissioner Vibhushan Kanti Das told the BBC.
Families are arriving at designated cyclone shelters throughout the day. Hundreds packed classrooms in Cox’s Bazar schools.
Others brought plastic bags filled with just a few of their belongings. Some arrived with livestock, chickens and cows.
17-year-old Jannat took up space on her classroom desk with her two-month-old baby. She took some clothes in her bag, but she didn’t have anything else. Her husband was still at the coastal house and made sure it was safe before they joined.
She said she was scared of this cyclone because her home was damaged by Cyclone Citran last year.
“I’m worried about what will happen next. I’m afraid my house will be submerged again,” Janat told the BBC.
Nearly one million Rohingya refugees from neighboring Myanmar (also known as Burma) remain at risk, living in flimsy bamboo shelters covered in tarpaulins. The United Nations says it is doing everything it can to protect these areas.
The Bangladeshi government does not allow refugees to leave the camps, and many say they feel uneasy and uneasy about what will happen if their shelters are hit by a storm.
Mohammad Rafiq, 40, and his family live in one of the small bamboo shelters built for refugees.
Such shelters with tarpaulin roofs are unlikely to provide adequate protection from high winds and heavy rain.
Muhammad says all we can do is pray to God to save us. “We have nowhere to go for safety and no one to turn to.”
“We have faced many difficulties in the past and have had our homes demolished in the past. We hope that will not happen this time,” he added.
Weather forecasters expect the cyclone to bring heavy rains and possibly trigger landslides. It poses a serious danger to those living in hillside camps where landslides are a daily occurrence.
Dr Shamsur Dhuza, from the Bangladesh government office which oversees refugees and camps, told the BBC that they are working with NGOs to ensure the camps are as prepared as possible for the cyclone.
But he said moving refugees out of the camps would not be an easy task.
“It’s very difficult to move one million refugees and it’s difficult to carry out a campaign. We have to be realistic,” the official said.
“Our plan is to save lives. We are also focused on the next few days. Heavy rains can cause flash floods and landslides, which will also pose a hazard.”
In Myanmar, rain began to fall in Sittwe, the capital of Rakhine state, on Friday night. As people evacuated, the streets emptied and many sought safety in cyclone shelters on higher ground.
Few life jackets can be found, but the rest of the inventory is sold at high prices. Gas stations were also closed on Saturday, making it difficult for people to drive out of the city.