Death toll rises to 81 in Mokha riots in Myanmar

According to Myanmar’s local leaders, officials and state-owned media, the death toll from Cyclone Mokha has risen to 81.

Residents of the country’s affected villages are trying to repair their damaged homes and waiting for relief aid.

Last Sunday (May 14), Mokha lashed Rakhine, scarred by sectarian violence, with wind gusts of up to 210 kilometers per hour. It blew roofs off houses in the state capital, Sittwe, and flooded the city.

The country’s Irrawaddy newspaper, citing local leaders, said at least 46 people were killed in Bu Ma, a village of Rakhine’s Rohingya Muslim minority, and nearby Khayung Doke Kar.

A Buddhist monastery collapsed in Rathedang, a small town north of Rakhine’s capital Sittwe, killing 13 people and a woman died when a building collapsed in a nearby village, according to Myanmar state media MRTV.

“The death toll will rise, as hundreds of people are still missing,” said Bu Mar village chief Carlo.

Abul Hossain (66), who was standing nearby, said that he prayed for his daughter at the grave and found her dead body on Tuesday morning.

“My body was not doing well, so we were getting late to go somewhere else before the cyclone. Just as we were about to get out, the tide washed us away,” he said.

“I found his body in the canal of the village. I came to bury him,” he said in a tearful voice.

Other residents of the village went to the beach to search for family members who had been swept away by the tide.

Nine people died in Dapaing Rohingya refugee camp near Sittwe. The camp suffered extensive damage in the storm. No relief aid has reached there.

The leader of the camp said, “Nobody is able to leave the camp because the bridges have collapsed. We need help.”

Local leaders and officials said six people were killed in On Tao Gi village and one in On Tao Chai village.

On Monday, the country’s state-run media reported five deaths but did not provide any further details.

Millions of Rohingya live in cyclone-hit Rakhine. But no government of Myanmar has agreed to recognize this oppressed minority as their own citizens. In the face of deadly repression by the military in the last few years, more than 1 million Rohingyas from Myanmar have come to neighboring Bangladesh and taken refuge.

According to the UN Office for Humanitarian Affairs, OCHA, about 6 million people in Rakhine were in need of humanitarian assistance before the storm, including about 1.2 million people internally displaced by ethnic violence.

Earlier in 2008, Cyclone Nargis, which hit southern Myanmar, killed nearly 140,000 people, making Mokha one of the strongest cyclones to hit the country since then.

Source: দৈনিক আজাদী by

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