President Thein Sein instructs authorities for cyclone

Rangoon, Burma: Yesterday, State television broadcast cyclone warnings and President Thein Sein instructed regional authorities to be ready in case the storm hits the country, according to state television.

Latest map of the Mahasen (01B)
Burmese government warned on May 11, that a cyclone now forming in the Bay of Bengal could crash into the western coast of Arakan State next week.

Rohingya refugees of Sittwe (Akyab) raising fears that storm accompanied by heavy rains could swamp low-lying Rohinga camps, housing many people who fled violence last year, a man from refugee camp said who denied to be named.

The local villagers of Maungdaw Township said, “At present, they are seeing some clouds in the sky and the temperature is also very high. It is one of the signs to hit storm in northern Arakan or some parts of Arakan very soon.  The authority prepared some arrangement – two monasteries and the Maungdaw high school for cyclone shelters for people in the evening after Arakan State government directed them to do it. In Akyab, the authorities some preparations – moving some IDP camps to inside land and kept at shelters.”

The latest information from N India Ocean, Storm Alert issued at 12 May, 2013 12:00 GMT, the Tropical Storm MAHASEN (01B) currently located near 10.2 N 87.0 E is forecast to strike land to the following likelihood(s) at the given lead time(s):
Yellow Alert Country(s) or Province(s) – India will attack  within 72 hours; Bangladesh
and Burma within 96 hours; as may be the Mahasen (01B) will pass  Barisal, Chittagong and Cox’s Bazar from Bangladesh; Akyab (Sittwe) from Burma.

Around 125,000 people – mostly Rohingya Muslims—are living in overcrowded tents and makeshift shelters in Rakhine state after two outbreaks of violence last year.

Nearly 70,000 of those displaced are in low-lying areas along the coast that are highly vulnerable to storm surges and flooding and should be moved to higher ground, said Ashok Nigam, the United Nations’ resident and humanitarian coordinator.

Kelland Stevenson, country director for the international charity Save the Children, said aid agencies held an emergency meeting Saturday (on May 11) to check stocks of food and shelter and draw up emergency plans.

“The information we’re getting now is that the storm is pursuing away from Rakhine state, but it can change course at any minute,” Stevenson said.

Chit Kyaw, the deputy director of Myanmar’s Department of Meteorology, said that if the cyclone stays on its course toward Bangladesh, its whirling arms could sweep over Buthidaung and Maungdaw township of in northernmost Rakhine (Abakan) State.

Mr. Nigam also said the UN is urging the government to move the most vulnerable displaced people in Rakhine state to higher ground in case of disaster strikes.

Another village businessman from Maungdaw said, “If the cyclone hits Arakan north, it is sure that Rohingya people will not get any help from the government side as it neglected them in previous cyclone impact. It did not provide relief goods to the Rohingya people.”

The Rohingya, whose movement has been restricted by authorities, have suffered discrimination for decades.

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