Blaze destroys hundreds of homes in Rakhine IDP camp

YANGON — A major fire on Tuesday damaged or destroyed the homes of some 2,000 Rohingya Muslims living in a camp for people displaced by 2012 communal fighting in Rakhine State.

The charred remains of wooden shelters and twisted metal roofs were visible through a thick haze of smoke after the fire broke out in the early morning, a stark reminder of dire living conditions for over 100,000 people confined to a network of bleak camps in Rakhine state.

Authorities said a cooking stove caused the blaze at the Bawdupa camp near state capital Sittwe, with strong winds believed to have spread flames from house to house in the tinder-dry area.

A statement from the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said initial reports suggested 14 people had been injured, with unconfirmed reports that there could have been fatalities.

“An estimated 440 households (about 2,000 individuals) were affected, but exact numbers are unconfirmed,” it said, adding that humanitarian organisations were working to provide shelter and other necessities.

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It said 44 barracks-style housing blocks, which hold up to eight families each, were completely destroyed by the fire. Up to nine more were badly damaged.

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