cyclone Nargis makes kills over 138,000 people in Burma.
In early May 2008, Burma was struck by Cyclone Nargis, which left over 138,000 dead and tens of thousands injured, and 2.5 million homeless. It was the worst natural disaster ever in Myanmar (Burma). Damage was estimated at over $10 billion, which made it the most damaging cyclone ever recorded in this basin. The Myanmar government estimated the storm completely destroyed 450,000 of 800,000 homes hit. Associated Press called it “Asia’s answer to Hurricane Katrina”—except it was much more deadly.
Packing winds upwards of 195 kph, Cyclone Nargis became one of Asia’s deadliest storms by hitting land at one of the lowest points in Myanmar and setting off a storm surge that reached over 40 kilometers (25 miles) inland. Among the worst areas were Labutta, Bogale, Pyapon, Dedaye and Kyaiklat. More than 400,000 hectares of farmland were flooded with seawater and more than 200,000 drafts animals were killed in the Yangon and Irrawaddy areas. Before the storm hit this area produced 3.3 million tons of crops on 900,000 hectares of land in the monsoon season and 1 million tons of crops on 200,000 hectares in the summer. Initially some said that crops could only be raised on 40 percent of the damaged land and loses could clip two percent off Myanmar’s GDP for 2008 but after the disaster journalists reported that crops were raised in many places thought to be unable to produce crops.
Cyclone Nargis was a rare, eastward-moving, low-latitude, strong tropical cyclone. It made landfall in the evening of May 2, 2008 and lashed Myanmar for three days. It sent a storm surges 40 kilometers up the densely-populated Irrawaddy Delta. Nargis advanced eastward along the coastal delta region, over rivers, other waterways and villages surrounded by paddy fields. The cyclone initially hit the land with wind speeds of up to 194 kph, and later accelerated to a top speed of 238 kph. The name “Nargis” is an Urdu word meaning daffodil.