Two killed, nearly 275,000 Myanmar Rohingya flee Bangladesh cyclone in Cox's Bazar

A man inspects his damaged home in Cox's Bazar on October 25, 2023, following the landfall of Cyclone Hamoon. Nearly 275,000 people in Bangladesh fled to shelters on October 25 as Cyclone Hamoon barrelled into the southeastern coast, killing at least two people, officials said. - AFP

COX'S BAZAR, Bangladesh (AFP): Nearly 275,000 people in Bangladesh fled to shelters on Wednesday as Cyclone Hamoon barrelled into the southeastern coast, killing at least two people, officials said.

Hamoon is the latest major storm to batter Bangladesh's coast, with the low-lying South Asian nation witnessing an increasing number of severe weather events as climate change fuels bigger and deadlier storms.

Power lines were cut and intense rainfall lashed coastal villages and islands, but there were no reports of widespread major damage, Kamrul Hasan, secretary of the disaster management ministry, told AFP.

"We evacuated 273,352 people to cyclone shelters," Hasan said, adding that two people died, one crushed by a fallen tree and another when a building collapsed.

"At least 10 people were injured and are being treated in hospitals," he said.

Bangladesh Meteorological Department expert Muhammad Abul Kalam Mallik said Hamoon made landfall in the Chittagong and Cox's Bazar coastal districts in the early hours of Wednesday morning, with wind speeds of up to 104 kilometres (65 miles) per hour.

"It is likely to move further inland and weaken gradually," Mallik said.

Bangladesh's southeastern coast is home to nearly one million Rohingya refugees who fled Myanmar and live in flimsy tarpaulin shelters, but Hasan said the camps did not fall in the main path of the cyclone.

Cox's Bazar district lost power late Tuesday and district officials could not be contacted for updates on any damages caused.

Climate change has increased the intensity of tropical storms, with more rain and stronger gusts leading to flash floods and coastal damage, experts say.

In May, Cyclone Mocha became the most powerful storm to hit Bangladesh since Cyclone Sidr in November 2007. Sidr killed more than 3,000 people and caused billions of dollars in damage.

In recent years, better forecasting and more effective evacuation planning have dramatically reduced the death toll from such storms. - AFP

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