Flooding hits Myanmar

A tropical cyclone drenches the country with torrential rains

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    Over a hundred people are believed to have died after Tropical Cyclone 02B hit the Myanmar-Bangladesh border [AFP]

    Myanmar is a very insular country and it often takes a while for news to filter out to the rest of the world.

    This is the case again; reports of damage are only just reaching us, four days after Tropical Cyclone 2B made landfall on the border of Bangladesh and Myanmar.

    The system churned in the Bay of Bengal for a good few days, before developing into a tropical system. Throughout that time, it poured torrential rains on the coast. Only after this did the storm hit, drenching the already-saturated region with yet more rain.

    Flooding struck both Bangladesh and Myanmar, and in Myanmar the river levels surged up to three metres higher than normal. Flash flooding and landslides swamped many northern and central parts of the country, sweeping away 2,000 houses and 6,000 more are still flooded. Government officials are now reporting that 106 people are missing, presumed dead. Aid is being distributed in an attempt to avoid outbreaks of waterborne diseases, such as cholera.

    Myanmar sees one tropical storm almost every year and they are often deadly. The strongest storm ever to hit the country was Tropical Cyclone Giri, which struck in 2010. Giri developed from a small clump of thunderstorms into the equivalent of a powerful category four hurricane in just 48 hours. Fortunately it struck a part of the coastline which was sparsely populated, so a major disaster was avoided.  

    However, just two years earlier, in 2008, the country was devastated by Tropical Cyclone Nargis. This was the worst natural disaster on record and led to the loss of 138,000 lives.

    The current outlook is far brighter. The monsoon rains have now eased and between November and April the northeast monsoon will affect the region. This means the next few months should bring far calmer weather to the region.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera


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