Cyclone Mora hit Bangladesh on Tuesday with 84-mile-per-hour winds, raising fears for the hundreds of thousands of Rohingya refugees who are living in flimsy shanty homes after fleeing violence or persecution in neighboring Myanmar.
There are 300,000 Muslim Rohingya living in and around Cox’s Bazar district, where one official said the storm has caused widespread damage.
Community leader Abdus Salam said there had been no attempt to evacuate them to cyclone shelters.
“Around 20,000 houses in the Rohingya refugee camps have been damaged by the storm,” he told AFP.
“In some places, almost every shanty home made of tin, bamboo, and plastic has been flattened. Some people were injured, but no one is dead.”
Meanwhile, authorities have evacuated more than 300,000 Bangladeshi citizens to cyclone shelters after raising a level-10 weather danger alert – the highest level – as the storm approached. Authorities had planned to make one million people leave their villages.
“They have been evacuated to at least 400 cyclone shelters, schools, and government offices in the coastal areas,” said Golam Mostofa, the senior official coordinating the evacuation.
Mostofa said there were no reports of casualties in Bangladesh so far.
All flights were suspended to and from Chittagong international airport and the Cox’s Bazar airports.
Bangladesh is routinely hit by bad storms between April and December that cause deaths and widespread property damage.
Landslides caused by storms in Sri Lanka killed at least 180 people in recent days, while 24 people in India have been killed by lightning or collapsing buildings.