(Sittwe) Residents of the capital of Burma’s Rakhine state, devastated by Cyclone Mocha, are in search of drinking water as the United Nations negotiates with the junta for access to the hardest hit areas.

Cyclone Mocha hit Burma and Bangladesh on Sunday, with driving rains and 195-kilometer-per-hour winds that demolished buildings and turned streets into rivers.

The hurricane killed at least 81 people across the country, according to statements by local leaders and officials to AFP reporters and state media tallies.

Residents of Sittwe, the capital of Rakhine, line up in queues to receive small canisters of water after the cyclone damaged sewage treatment plants that supply drinking water to the town of some 150,000 people.

“We stored water, but after two days we have none,” said Ko Htun, who was queuing to receive water from an NGO. “The rich can afford to buy water, but the poor cannot,” he blurts out.

Aye Hla, another resident of Sittwe, waits to receive rice distributed by the World Food Program at a monastery in the town.

“I haven’t eaten in four days,” the 40-year-old whispers. “I don’t have bowls, plates, or a house, and I don’t even have clothes to change into. I am here to ask for rice because my family is starving. »

Hundreds of sacks of rice were airlifted to Sittwe and a navy ship with rice, communications equipment and other aid was due to arrive Wednesday evening, according to state media.

Negotiations are “under way” with the Burmese military junta to gain access to cyclone-affected areas, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said. An OCHA spokesperson declined to elaborate.

“Offers of assistance from the international community have been accepted,” state media said on Tuesday.

When Cyclone Nargis killed at least 138,000 people in Burma in 2008, the then junta was accused of blocking emergency aid and initially denying access to aid workers and international aid.

Rakhine state is home to around 600,000 Rohingya, who are seen by many as intruders from Bangladesh and are denied citizenship and freedom of movement.

Camps housing displaced Rohingya around Sittwe were ravaged by the storm.

The leader of a camp outside Sittwe, who did not give his name, said on Wednesday they were still waiting for help.

“No help has reached us yet, because the bridges on the way to our camp are destroyed,” he explained. “We might be able to last two more days,” he said.