A group of local astrologers is comparing their 2006 storm predictions with data from the meteorology department.

 

If their predictions are proven true, the astrologers plan to include storm forecasts in future annual astrological calendars.

 

"It is important work for us because it will help keep people away from natural disasters and will prove the accuracy of astrological predictions," Than Htay, vice president of the Myanmar Astrology Research Bureau, told the Myanmar Times.

 

The research bureau - the only astrological organisation recognised by the country's government - will work by studying the position of stars, moon and planets in areas hit by storms and earthquakes in the past.

 

Superstitious nation

 

Than Htay said that weather forecasts using modern science are accurate for predicting when a quake will occur, but only astrology can predict where exactly it will be.

 

However, Tun Lwin, associate director general of the meteorology department, said his staff would not help with the research itself "because we are using science".

 

Instead, he added, the astrologers would use only their own traditional methods.

 

Many people in Myanmar, formerly known as Burma, are superstitious and seek advice from fortune tellers and astrologers.

 

It is alleged that the Burmese military government's surprise decision to move the country's capital from Rangoon to Pyinmana may have been partly based on advice from astrologers.