Fairfax Media Network

Weather News

Refugees missing in Myanmar cyclone capsize

Tuesday May 14, 2013 - 15:22 EST

Many Rohingya Muslims are feared drowned after a boat carrying of them out of danger from a cyclone capsized off western Myanmar.

It was the start of a mass evacuation from low-lying regions ahead of cyclone Mahasen.

Barbara Manzi, head of the Myanmar office of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, said the boat struck rocks off Pauktaw township, in Rakhine state, and sank.

The United Nations warned last week that the tropical cyclone could bring "life-threatening conditions" to thousands of people living in camps in the west of Myanmar.

Homes destroyed

They fled after their homes were destroyed in violence between majority Buddhists and minority Muslims last year.

"The possibility of the cyclone hitting has added a real urgency to our plans," said Vivian Tan, a spokeswoman for the UN refugee agency.

"We're building temporary shelters made out of bamboo which will hopefully stand the heavy rains, but with a cyclone, you just don't know what will hold up."

Evacuations began on Monday in some areas such as Pauktaw, a port town about 27 kilometres by sea from the Rakhine state capital of Sittwe.

Nearly 20,000 Rohingyas are living in makeshift camps in Pauktaw after last year's violence.

This includes about 12,000 in flood-prone areas, according to UN data.

The mostly stateless Rohingya Muslims are denied citizenship by the Myanmar government and considered by many in the country to be immigrants from Bangladesh.

The slow-moving cyclone Mahasen was raised to a category four warning level by Bangladesh authorities on Monday.



© ABC 2013

More breaking news

Sydney Morning Herald
ABC News
National Nine News
News Limited

Display Your Local Weather

Weather News

BOM, CSIRO forecast more hot days, longer fire-danger season in State of the Climate report

07:04 EDT

Hot days will become more frequent in states such as South Australia, resulting in more extreme fire danger weather and longer fire danger seasons, a report on climate change has found.

State of the Climate report 2016: Extreme heat events increasing in duration, frequency and intensity

00:03 EDT

The duration, frequency and intensity of extreme heat events have increased across large parts of Australia, a climate report has found.

Delightful Derby Day, Cool Cup

15:10 EDT

Melbourne's volatile weather will live up to its reputation during this year's Melbourne Cup carnival.