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'Cyclone Nargis a sign of things to come'

May 09, 2008 18:13 IST

Sunita Narain, director, Centre for Science and Environment has warned that the Nargis cyclone that devastated Myanmar is a "sign of things to come", as climate change caused extreme weather to increase in intensity.

According to a report in The Australian, Narain warned that destructive cyclones were likely to occur more often unless nations sped up their efforts to curtail the emission of greenhouse gases.

"Nargis is a sign of things to come. Last year, Bangladesh was devastated by the tropical cyclone Sidr," said Narain. "The victims of these cyclones are climate change victims and their plight should remind the rich world that it is doing too little to contain its greenhouse gas emissions," she added.

Narain recalled that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, headed by Indian Rajendra Pachauri, in a report last year concluded that cyclones would increase in their intensity as a result of global warming.

"Lifestyles in rich nations are now spelling doom for countries like (Myanmar) and Bangladesh -- and the big polluters of the world, such as the US, cannot escape their responsibility and their role in the 'dance of death' of tropical cyclones like Nargis," said Narain.

Senior Indian officials had already warned officials in Yangon to prepare for a high-intensity storm two days before it hit.

According to Indian Meteorological Department Director General Ajit Tyagi, teams in his department had been tracking the cyclone from the day it formed in the last week of April.

"We were almost sure about the direction it was taking and had sent out messages to all the international cyclone warning centres as well as the countries in the region (including Myanmar)," said Tyagi.

"The cyclone headed towards Myanmar from May 1 and the Met authorities were informed about its high intensity," he added.

Emphasising that Nargis was always headed for Myanmar, Tyagi said, "There was no danger to the Indian coasts. We had also informed all the coastal states that Cyclone Nargis was not headed towards India and there was no need to panic."