Authorities are preparing rescues for hundreds of thousands ahead of the “very severe” tropical storm that is on its way to strike the largest refugee camp of the world.
When it makes landfall on Sunday in Bangladesh, Storm Mocha will unleash winds exceeding 110mph. It may also trigger flash floods or landslides.
World Meteorological Organisation on Friday declared the cyclone “very dangerous”. The WMO also warned that a storm surge up to 8ft (2.5m) could inundate low-lying parts of Myanmar and Bangladesh.
The path of Storm Mocha is expected to affect Bangladesh’s Cox’s Bazar district in the southeast border region, which is home to one million Rohingya refugee.
In March of this year, a massive fire broke out in Cox’s Bazar.
Claire Nullis, from the WMO, said at a press briefing in Geneva that “it’s a dangerous cyclone… and… it is associated with violent wind.”
She added that “there will be major effects both before and after landing for hundreds of thousands of people in the world who are most vulnerable.”
The Indian Meteorological department had earlier classified Storm Mocha as a “very severe storm”. On Friday afternoon, the weather system was “very likely” to intensify into an “extremely severe cyclonic thunderstorm” overnight.
According to India’s Meteorological Department, Storm Mocha was located around 600 miles (1,050km) south of Cox’s Bazar, and about 580 miles (930kms) southwest from Sittwe, Myanmar.
On Saturday, the evacuation of half a millon people will begin. Nearly 600 cyclone shelters have been set up to offer refuge to those who followed the advice to stay away from coastal areas.
The cyclone will affect millions of fishermen and coastal communities from Bangladesh and Myanmar, said Rajendra Kumar Jenniferi, senior scientist with the Indian Meteorological Department.
The UK Met Office tweeted a picture of Storm Mocha, describing it as “very severe”. It also included a description of how the extreme weather system is moving northwards across the central Bay of Bengal.
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The Bay of Bengal in the southeast and the northern Andaman sea have been warned off by fishermen and ships.
The Andaman and Nicobar Islands, as well as parts of India’s remote south-east, are also likely to experience heavy rains.
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The extreme weather system will arrive in less than a month after devastating flooding submerged millions of homes and killed dozens in India’s northeast and Bangladesh during June last year.
In October of this year, tropical storm Sitrang killed at least 24 Bangladeshis, and left around 8 million without electricity.
Experts claim that the climate change has increased the frequency, severity and unpredictable nature of floods in Bangladesh.