Live coverage of Cyclone Mocha

7:00 pm local time

After making landfall near the coastal city of Sittwe in Rakhine State on Sunday afternoon, Cyclone Mocha damaged houses, buildings, a mobile tower, and lamp posts across the city. A tidal surge also flooded many streets and residential areas in the city as well as in other coastal towns in the state. Many Sittwe residents are currently trapped in their houses as the tide continues to rise. As mobile communications have been lost since the afternoon, further details are unavailable.

Citing a meteorologist at the government storm warning centre in the Bangladeshi capital Dhaka, a BBC report said the diameter of the cyclone is 520km (323 miles) and will therefore take some time to cross the coastline.

Myanmar’s meteorological department said that the wind will sustain a speed of up to 100 miles per hour in Rakhine coastal towns over the next 24 hours. It will hit inland parts of the country such as Chin State and Magway Region, which border Rakhine State to the north and northeast, later in the evening on Sunday and reach Sagaing Region and Kachin State by Monday, according to the department. The storm will weaken as it moves inland, but heavy rainfall is expected to result in a high risk of landslides in Chin State and Sagaing and Magway regions, it added. Mobile internet services have been cut in many of these areas due to the presence of groups that have been fighting the military since it seized power two years ago.

Elsewhere in Myanmar, at least three deaths were reported on Sunday morning. A rescue team in the Shan State town of Tachileik said that it had recovered the bodies of a couple who were buried when a landslide caused by heavy rain hit their house at around 3am on Sunday. And a regime police officer was crushed to death when a tree fell on him amid strong winds near Pyin Oo Lwin in Mandalay Region, a local told Myanmar Now.

3:00 pm local time

Some mobile and internet services have been shut down in parts of Rakhine State after a major communication tower was blown over by strong winds in Sittwe on Sunday afternoon. Local media outlet Western News has also reported a tidal surge and continuing strong winds. Citing emergency rescue teams, its most recent report said that floods have been observed in some parts of Sittwe and that there have been requests for help from locals. Rescue teams said they expect major damage to houses and infrastructure, from both flooding and the force of the wind. Myanmar’s meteorological department said that wind speeds of up to 120 miles per hour are expected in Rakhine coastal areas over the next 24 hours, while tides could rise up to 20 feet.

(Photos: Western News)

2:00 pm local time

Communities sheltering from Cyclone Mocha in the town of Mrauk-U in Rakhine State are in need of food and medicine, according to the township’s Committee on Natural Disaster Responses.

Tun Nay Win, the committee’s spokesperson, said about 4,000 people from rural villages near Mrauk-U, Sittwe, and Pauktaw are currently staying in at least 18 shelters, including monasteries, in the town.

An ancient heritage site, Mrauk-U is located inland, about 36 miles northeast of Rakhine State capital Sittwe, which is where the cyclone is currently passing through. It has had rain since Saturday, with strong winds beginning around noon on Sunday. However, no significant damage has been reported so far, according to Tun Nay Win.

“We can only provide [displaced villagers] with rice and eggs, but we can’t even reach every shelter. Food is a major concern, and they are in need of water and medicine as well,” he said.

He added that food supplies are expected to run out after Monday morning. In addition to the 4,000 staying in temporary shelters, many others are said to be staying with relatives and in hotels and other public accommodation.

(Reported by Maung Shwe Wah. Photos supplied)

1:30 pm local time

Cyclone Mocha made landfall in Sittwe at around 1:30pm on Sunday. Many buildings in the state capital are being shaken by strong winds, locals reported. Video shows swaying trees and a telecommunication tower being blown over.

1:00 pm local time

Myanmar’s meteorological department said at 12:30 pm on Sunday that Cyclone Mocha has been moving towards the city of Sittwe with a wind speed of up to 220 km (137 miles) per hour. The meteorological agency said the “extremely severe cyclonic storm” was situated about 80 miles southwest of Sittwe, 85 miles south-southwest of Maungdaw, and 100 miles west of Kyaukphyu in Rakhine at 11:30 am.

(Zoom Earth)

12:00 pm local time

A telecommunication tower in the Rakhine State capital city of Sittwe was blown over by strong winds at around noon on Sunday, as Cyclone Mocha neared the area.

(Photo: Supplied)

UN ‘standing ready’

In a statement, the United Nations resident and humanitarian coordinator for Myanmar, Ramanathan Balakrishnan, said that UN agencies are “standing ready” to assist communities expected to be hit by the cyclone.

He also noted that the cyclone will impact parts of the country–Rakhine and Chin states and Magway and Sagaing regions–already facing major humanitarian crises due to ongoing conflict in the country.

“Collectively, these states in the country’s west host 1.2 million displaced people, many of whom are fleeing conflict and are living in the open without proper shelter,” he said.

“For a cyclone to hit an area where there is already such deep humanitarian need is a nightmare scenario, impacting hundreds of thousands of vulnerable people whose coping capacity has been severely eroded by successive crises,” he added.

According to Balakrishnan, a total of 6 million “already in humanitarian need in the states where impacts are currently projected.”

10:00 am local time

Strong winds have damaged a number of trees and rooftops in Sittwe, according to locals.

(Sittwe at around 10am local time)

In the rural village of Shwe Oo Kwin in Gwa Township, about 300km southeast of Sittwe, a few electricity posts and houses were reported damaged by heavy rains and wind on Sunday morning.

(Damage in Shwe Oo Kwin, a village in Rakhine State’s Gwa Township, is seen on Sunday morning)

A resident of the village, which is located about two miles inland from the southern Rakhine coast, said that it was hit at around 10pm on Saturday by strong winds that damaged around 50 houses. No injuries were reported, and most residents are currently sheltering in the undamaged houses, the source said.

9:30 am local time

As Cyclone Mocha approaches Myanmar’s coastal areas in Rakhine State on Sunday morning, strong winds and rain have been observed in the state capital Sittwe and in Thandwe to the south.

Forecasters predict that Cyclone Mocha, the region’s most powerful cyclone for over a decade, will land on Sunday noon between Bangladesh’s Cox’s Bazar, where nearly one million Rohingya refugees live in shelters, and Kyaukphyu, a Rakhine coastal town about 100km southeast of Sittwe. According to the Zoom Earth website, Cyclone Mocha was packing winds of up to 260 kilometres per hour (161 miles per hour) on Sunday morning.

Many Sittwe residents have headed for higher ground over the past two days, but many were still seen in the city on Sunday morning. Myanmar Airways International said all of its flights to Rakhine State had been suspended until Monday.

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