Myanmar authorities work to evacuate camps as cyclone nears

By REUTERS
May 15, 2013 10:38

 
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SITTWE, Myanmar - Authorities in Myanmar struggled on Wednesday to evacuate tens of thousands of people, most of them Rohingya Muslims, before a cyclone reaches camps in low-lying regions that have been their home since ethnic and religious unrest last year.

Cyclone Mahasen has already killed at least seven people and displaced 3,881 in Sri Lanka, its Disaster Management Center said on Tuesday.

The storm is moving north over the Bay of Bengal and is expected to reach land early on Friday, hitting north of Chittagong in Bangladesh.

The Myanmar government had planned to move 38,000 internally displaced people, most of them Rohingya Muslims, by Tuesday but many have refused to relocate from camps in Rakhine State in the west of the country, afraid of the authorities' intentions.

At least 192 people were killed in June and October last year in violence between ethnic Rakhine Buddhists and Rohingya, who are denied citizenship by the government in Myanmar and considered by many Buddhists to be immigrants from Bangladesh.

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