Disclaimer: This is an example of a student written essay.
Click here for sample essays written by our professional writers.

Any scientific information contained within this essay should not be treated as fact, this content is to be used for educational purposes only and may contain factual inaccuracies or be out of date.

Impact Of Cyclone Nargis In Myanmar Environmental Sciences Essay

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Environmental Sciences
Wordcount: 1970 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

Reference this

In May 2008, a very severe cyclonic storm1 named Nargis caused the worst national natural disaster in the history of Myanmar. It killed almost 80,000 people and thousands of people are still missing in this catastrophic event1. The devastating cyclone was initiated in the area of deep convection, which was established in the Bay of Bengal, in late May and then intensified rapidly into a severe cyclone with the action of warm water and upper-level tough1. This strong cyclone hit the coastal areas of Myanmar on May 2nd and brought serious damage to these areas. In this essay, the major factor that contributed to such a tremendous loss of life during the storm will be first discussed and then followed by the factors accounted for the great damage after the storm. The essay will be concluded with some issues regarding the choice of human being on the cyclones’ attack.

High surge wave

First and foremost, the high surge wave brought by the cyclone Nargis was the most significant cause for the great damage during storm. The massive surge which was triggered by cyclone swept away everything like houses, roads and other infrastructure on its way in the inland area1. The 12 feet high wave swept away and inundated 50 % of house in the low-lying area. At least 10,000 people in Bogalay had died because of the storm surge1, it is a town 50 miles southwest of Yangon.

Flooding with several serious consequences

The secondary effect was the flooding caused by surge in the low-lying area. Flooded sea water ruined the agriculture area and other residential places. The high salinity of sea water damaged the vegetations growth there as well. More importantly, the soil then became saltier which makes it unfavorable for the planting of vegetation and thus affected the food supply in affected area evermore. In addition, flooding caused the blockage of road and this further broke down the public transport network. People could hardly get through the flooded area and this caused inconvenience to people especially the elderly. Moreover, the electricity power lines were damaged and this led to electricity shortage in the low-lying area for about six to seven days. Furthermore, the wells used to be providing clean water were submerged by the sea water. As a result, the clean water systems were polluted. To conclude, the food, electricity and clean water could not be found in the coastal area of Myanmar and this lack of resources further deteriorated the situation. Due to the absence of these three basic survival elements for over four days, the number of the death kept on increasing to an unimaginable level.

Satellite images of flooding

In addition, the satellite image of Myanmar could demonstrate the destructive damage brought by flooding. In figure 2, it can be seen that rivers and lakes are sharply observed as there was a sharp boundary between them and both the vegetation and fallow agricultural area on April 15. The Irrawaddy River flows in the south direction and the Mouths of the Irrawaddy are formed by numerous distributaries 2. The deep blue green area near the shore was wetlands. Cyclone Nargis attacked directly the Mouths of the Irrawaddy and then moved to the northeast of coastline2. After 20 days, the coastal plain was flooded shown in figure 3. The agricultural areas had been totally destroyed and most of the coastal areas were covered by sea water. For instance, Yangon with population over 4 million was almost completely submerged by sea water whereas several large cities with population from 100,000 to 500,000 experienced large magnitude of flooding2. The flooding turned the coastal areas of Yangon into muddy places.

Figure 2

“NASA’s Terra satellite- Burma coast on April 15, 2008, before the arrival of Tropical Cyclone Nargis Credit: http://www.nasa.gov/topics/earth/features/nargis_floods.html”

Figure 3

“NASA’s Terra satellite- Burma coast on May 5, 2008, Tropical Cyclone Nargis causes the devastation of flooding.” Credit: http://www.nasa.gov/topics/earth/features/nargis_floods.html

Strong wind

Furthermore, the strong wind brought lots of damages to the Myanmar area. Cyclone Nargis was a strong Category 3 or minimal Category 4 hurricane with sustained winds of 130 mph and gusts of 150-160 mph3. The strong wind resulted in devastating damages to the environment. Since the area of Myanmar is very poor4, the houses were usually made only by thin woods instead of concrete. As the storm brought the strong wind to the coastal area, most of the houses were destroyed; it was because they could not withstand the high speed wind. More importantly, the wind would bring all the debris and broken woods especially those from the houses along its track. This particularly endangered human lives in that area, as the high speed flowing woods could possibly destroy any lives or properties along its way within a few seconds. Therefore, human lives as well as properties were destroyed in large scale under the influence of strong wind.

“Aya, near the Ayeyarwady estuary in Myanmar. Cyclone Nargis caused significant land loss and coastal erosion.” (Credit: Hermann Fritz)

Mudflow effect

Last but not least, the mudflow was one of the factors causing large amount of death in Myanmar5. The heavy rainfall brought by the cyclones saturated the muddy area with water and thus pressure would be built up on the mud surface. When the combination of water pressure and gravity of the mud is larger than the resisting force, the high speed mudflow will occur. The mudflow which contained large amount of suspended particles and silt rushed into the coastal area, hence many residents of low-lying rice fields were simply swept away in Maynmar4. It was estimated the death has been to 140,000 cases or more. People were crashed with the broken woods in mudflow, swept away or suffered from suffocation4. Even worse, the mud flew on the coastal area prohibited the excavation of the buried people, making it more difficult. The mud blocked the transport network which presented a difficult challenge to disaster management; and would result in serious damages.

Poor management of international relief

From above, we have screened through the factors causing significant destruction during the passage of strong cyclone. Then, the discussion should move on to the factors of great damages after the storm. The blockage of international relief by the military government was a major reason for the great destruction of lives and properties6 after the storm. Many disaster assessment officials had to wait for few days in order to get the visa and enter area of Myanmar6. This further hindered the relief work as the international relief teams and private charity groups were not allowed to fully assess the situation. As the disaster could not be fully assessed, teams could not estimate the amount of relief materials and other supplies required promptly. Moreover, as mentioned before, Myanmar is a poor country which does not have enough relief technology and equipment to help rescue the buried people out of the mud flow. Due to the initial blockage from the military government, the international relief team cannot enter the affected areas promptly. This delayed the time of the arrival of foreign relief teams and as a result, most of them arrived there after three days of the event. However, the survival time limit of human being buried in debris or even mud was only forty-eight hours and this increased the number of death. In fact, when the teams finally arrived, they could only do little as the golden period had passed through6.

“The International Federation is stepping up its efforts to get food and water to those most affected by cyclone Nargis.”

Credits: http://www.ifrc.org/Docs/News/08/08051202/index.asp

Blockage of assess

In addition, access was a challenge for the rescue teams to face. The United Nation estimated that there are 1.4 million of survived victims who need resources like food, clean water, medicine and shelter7. However, most of the flooded area could not be entered by trucks. Instead, the helicopters were required to transport the relief materials. The situation worsened because the Myanmar government was too poor to have enough helicopters. Moreover, it took time in sending extra helicopters from other countries. Eventually, the officers allowed the first of ten helicopters from the World Food Program to carry food and water supplies from Yangon into the delta after a 10-day delay. The other nine were en route to Myanmar7. Some people died out of starvation as the supplies reached the impact area only after the ten days delay.

Secondary damages of flooding

Besides, the tidal surge drove inland from the sea caused secondary damage to the cities of Myanmar8. Three quarters of livestock were killed and almost half the fishing fleets were sunk. Moreover, a million acres of rice paddies were salted by the seawater surges8. This flooding of seawater cut the local food supply and inundated the low-lying area. Water pipes and electricity power lines were destroyed that people had to survive through four days without electricity and clean water. Even worse, the flooded areas remained flooded for a week and the water was contaminated by the dead bodies. ‘There was a clear lack of sanitation facilities for the 500 people.’ said by an officer from red cross9. People had no choices but needed to drink the polluted water in order to survive. This led to the spread of water-borne diseases like cHYPERLINK “http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cyclosporiasis”yclosporiasis and aHYPERLINK “http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amoebiasis”moebiasis. Reports of digestive tract disorders and malaria were heard and one in five people was reported sick9. In addition, the lack of transport resulted in a shortage of medicine. When people got sick because of drinking unclean water, their situations would probably worsen and they may die eventually. This caused a viscous cycle.

Find Out How UKEssays.com Can Help You!

Our academic experts are ready and waiting to assist with any writing project you may have. From simple essay plans, through to full dissertations, you can guarantee we have a service perfectly matched to your needs.

View our services

Cyclonic storm1 named Nargis was the worst national natural disaster on the history of Myanmar. Both the natural and human factors greatly worsen the impact brought by cyclone which caused lots of death and damages. Natural factors like high surge wave, mudflow and flooding reconstructed the low-lying area of Myanmar; whereas human factors like poor preparation for the cyclone and delay of the relief teams further worsened the situation and increased the number of the death and damages of properties. The coastal low-lying area of Myanmar originally had fertile soil and favors agriculture10. However, after the storm, all the agriculture areas were inundated by flood water; and the farmers lost all their farming products in three hours10. The power of nature cannot be modified by human being and this can be well demonstrated by the example that cyclone Nargis struck Myanmar. Unfortunately, people had to earn money so they chose to stay there. On the other hand, Hong Kong, as an Asian city also, is always sheltered. Hong Kong people probably never give a serious thought on what will happen if this typhoon hit our city instead. Some of us might even hope that the typhoons could attack Hong Kong directly so that there will be no working or school days. Hong Kong is a safe place that no one can remember the destructive typhoon and it leads to our neglect of unfortunate disaster elsewhere in the world. Should we change our attitude and understand more about how people suffer in the other part of world; and ultimately show more care to the unfortunate ones?


Cite This Work

To export a reference to this article please select a referencing stye below:

Reference Copied to Clipboard.
Reference Copied to Clipboard.
Reference Copied to Clipboard.
Reference Copied to Clipboard.
Reference Copied to Clipboard.
Reference Copied to Clipboard.
Reference Copied to Clipboard.

Related Services

View all

DMCA / Removal Request

If you are the original writer of this essay and no longer wish to have your work published on UKEssays.com then please: