Saturday, May 10, 2008

Cyclone Nargis

Cyclone Nargis was a tropical cyclone. It was the first in the Indian Ocean in 2008. It was classified as a Category 4 storm. It made landfall (went on land) in Myanmar in April and May 2008. It s possibly one of the worst storms to have hit the country. Officially at least 22,980+ people have died in the storm, with more 41,000 still not found (missing)[1][2]; the figures however are still rising, and 80,000 were reported dead in just one town. After the disaster, the Burmese government has called for help in dealing with the situation.[3] Some people say the government is having problems coping with the situation.[4]

More recent reports from the government say that about 80,000 have died. Some non-governmental organizations estimate that the final number will be well over 100,000.[5] Certain aid workers that came into the country estimate that 2 to 3 million are homeless, in the worst disaster in Burma’s history. They say it is comparable with the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami. Andrew Kirkwood, country director of a British charity organisation said:"We're looking at 50,000 dead and millions of homeless. I'd characterise it as unprecedented in the history of Burma. [It has had about the same effect as] the tsunami on individual countries. There might well be more dead than the tsunami caused in Sri Lanka."[6]

Because of the storm, the government has declared five regions - Yangon, Ayeyarwady, Bago Divisions, Mon and Kayin States currently as disaster areas. Thousands of buildings were destroyed; in the town of Labutta, located in the Ayeyarwady Division, state television reported that 75% of buildings had collapsed and 20% had their roofs ripped off.[7] It is believed that the cyclone is the deadliest tropical cyclone in the world since Hurricane Mitch in 1998, which killed about 18,000 people. At least 10,000 people have been reported to have died in the delta town of Bogale [8].

A diplomat in the city of Yangon spoke to the Reuters news agency, giving them a description of the scene. He said that the area around him looked like a 'war zone' as a result of the cyclone. Burst sewage mains caused the landscape to flood with waste, ruining the rice crop. [9] An official from the United Nations also talked about the situation, at the time of the event. "It's a bad situation. Almost all the houses are smashed. People are in a terrible situation," he said. Another UN representative also talked about the incident. He reported that "The Irrawaddy delta was hit extremely hard not only because of the wind and rain but because of the storm surge." The Daily Telegraph, a UK newspaper, reported that food prices in Myanmar could be affected by this disaster.[10][11]

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