Another Storm Front Approaches Burma
By YENI Saturday, May 10, 2008


Appearances on Burma’s state television by the country’s director general of the Department of Meteorology and Hydrology, Tun Lwin, always attract a large following.

Viewers like his style and informative approach to weather reporting. But now those same viewers are asking: "Why did he fail to warn us of the approach of Cyclone Nargis?”

Tun Lwin, the director general of the Department of Meteorology and Hydrology.
Timely warnings came from meteorologists in India and Thailand, and if they had been heeded by the Burmese authorities the staggering toll taken by Cyclone Nargis would not have been so high.

According to well-informed sources close to his department, Burma's leading meteorologist passed those warnings on to the government in Naypyidaw, together with information about the cyclone’s strength, expected course and timing.

Tun Lwin reportedly suggested the warning should be carried by state media, but sources said he was told by his bosses in the capital: "Don't create public panic ahead of the referendum."

Warnings of the approaching cyclone were finally published in the official press, but they were buried amid news of the approaching constitutional referendum.

The government appears to have learnt from the experience, for MRTV is now carrying reports that another severe storm is gathering in the Bay of Bengal. The UN’s weather agency, the World Meteorological Organization, reported on Friday that occasional tropical rain showers are expected through next Wednesday May 14 and also forecast "a period of heavy rainfall settling in around Thursday or Friday next week".

The agency said southwesterly winds may then hit the low-lying areas devastated by Cyclone Nargis, which killed up to 200,000 people and left as many as 1.5 million in need of housing, food and clean water.

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