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Cyclone Mocha Devastates Myanmar and Bangladesh: Severe Damage and Humanitarian Crisis

May 20, 2023: Cyclone Mocha, an extremely severe cyclonic storm, wreaked havoc in Myanmar and parts of Bangladesh during May 2023. This powerful tropical cyclone, the second depression and the first cyclonic storm of the 2023 North Indian Ocean cyclone season, originated from a low-pressure area and rapidly intensified over the Bay of Bengal.

Mocha reached its peak intensity as a Category 5-equivalent storm on May 14, with winds of 280 km/h (175 mph), tying the record for the strongest storm on record in the north Indian Ocean. As the cyclone approached the international border, thousands of volunteers assisted in evacuating citizens in both Myanmar and Bangladesh. Evacuations were ordered for low-lying areas, and over 500,000 individuals were relocated from coastal areas in Bangladesh.

In Myanmar, local authorities advised residents to evacuate low-lying and coastal areas, and preparations were made to handle the incoming cyclone. The Myanmar Red Cross Society, with the support of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), prepared for a major emergency response. Over 78,250 people were evacuated, including internally displaced persons in Rakhine, and search and rescue teams were deployed. The storm caused significant damage, with numerous houses, religious buildings, schools, and medical facilities destroyed across the country.

In Bangladesh, the UNHCR and local organizations collaborated to undertake emergency preparations in camps and coastal areas. Evacuation efforts were carried out, relocating almost 500,000 residents from the southern coastlines. The cyclone's impact on Bangladesh was less severe than initially feared, but significant damage to houses and agricultural areas was reported. The World Health Organization (WHO) deployed medical teams and ambulances in Cox's Bazar to provide assistance to those in need.

Both Myanmar and Bangladesh faced a humanitarian crisis following Cyclone Mocha. The death toll varied, with the ASEAN reporting 152 deaths, while the National Unity Government of Myanmar (NUG) stated that at least 463 people were killed. The storm also caused injuries, left people missing, and resulted in substantial property damage. Myanmar's Rakhine state, home to a significant number of internally displaced persons, was particularly affected.

The aftermath of Cyclone Mocha posed significant challenges due to damaged communication and infrastructure, as well as the limitations imposed by Myanmar's military government. International organizations and countries, such as Malteser International, the United States, and India, responded with relief efforts and financial support to assist the affected populations.

Cyclone Mocha serves as a reminder of the devastating power of tropical cyclones and the urgent need for preparedness, evacuation plans, and coordinated humanitarian responses. The affected regions are now focused on recovery and rebuilding efforts to restore normalcy in the wake of this destructive cyclone.

Mocha arrived 15 years after one of the deadliest cyclones in Asia, Nargis, devastated Myanmar's Irrawaddy Delta and resulted in the loss of 140,000 lives.

Cyclones, also known as hurricanes in the Atlantic and typhoons in the Pacific, have been observed to grow stronger and occur more frequently as a consequence of climate change, according to scientists.


Cyclone Mocha death toll rises sharply in Myanmar.

‘The water took them.’ Myanmar residents describe horror of Cyclone Mocha.