A satellite image of Cyclone Nargis nearing
the coast of Bangladesh.

Myanmar Cyclone Death Toll More Than 22,000

May 06, 2008 10:11 AM
by findingDulcinea Staff
If the number of fatalities is confirmed, Cyclone Nargis would be the second-deadliest storm in history. Some say such extreme weather is indicative of climate change.

30-Second Summary


The Myanmar Foreign Ministry upped the national death toll Tuesday to more than 22,000 from yesterday’s number of around 10,000. Hundreds of thousands more are homeless and without potable water. The towns of Bogalay and Laputta in the country’s low-lying Irawaddy Delta have particularly sustained damage, with much of the population of the former reported missing.

Five regions of Myanmar have been declared disaster zones. Gas prices quadrupled to $2.69 per liter on the black market over the weekend. The ruling junta announced that it will postpone a referendum—originally scheduled for Saturday—in the hardest-hit areas of the country.

A local man who wished to remain anonymous accused Myanmar’s ruling junta of inaction in the face of the crisis. "Where are all those uniformed people who are always ready to beat civilians? They should come out in full force and help clean up the areas and restore electricity," he said to the Associated Press.

Myanmar state television reported Sunday that 109 of the victims lived on the island of Haing Gyi.

In the capital city, Yangon, Chris Kaye, the U.N.'s humanitarian coordinator, said, "The Irrawaddy delta was hit extremely hard not only because of the wind and rain but because of the storm surge."

Forecast Earth argues that while the recent spate of severe weather, including extreme cold in Chicago and Afghanistan, may seem part of a normal cycle to some, it could be a sign of climate change.

Low-altitude areas such as the Irawaddy delta are in particular danger. Bangladesh, much of which is river delta, reported 4,000 residents either dead or missing in the aftermath of last November's Cyclone Sidr.

The Pacific Island nation of Tuvalu is in danger of complete submersion. Its highest elevation is 3.7 meters above high tide. Rising sea levels caused one high tide to push pollutedwater into residences in Funafuti, the capital city. Researcher Mark Hayes reports, "Some locals told how they'd caught tilapia fish washed into their kitchens."

Headline Links: Cyclone hits Myanmar, international aid groups ask for assistance

Background: Weather patterns and low-lying areas

Reference: Research on weather patterns


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