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Tuesday Map: Burma’s cyclone aftermath

Tuesday Map: Burma’s cyclone aftermath

The 130-mph winds and 12-foot-high waves of Cyclone Nargis have already left at least 22,500 dead and another 40,000 missing along Burma’s Andaman coast and Irrawaddy river basin, but the worst may not be over. Caryl Stern, head of the U.S. fund for UNICEF, said of the days to come, “Our biggest fear is that the aftermath could be more lethal than the storm itself.”

Burma’s paranoid, isolationistic junta has actually asked for international assistance in the face of this mounting disaster, but according to The Irrawaddy, a Burmese newsmagazine run out of Thailand, government cooperation with international relief groups is still questionable in practice.

As seen in this week’s Tuesday Map(s), though, the biggest issue on the ground may simply be standing water — miles and miles of standing water.

These images from the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Terra satellite show just how much of Burma’s coastal plain is now under water.

On April 15, the image shows clean-cut river tracks and a visible shoreline:

NASA

The May 5 image, however, is clearly a different story:

NASA

And this map, created by UNOSAT (the Operational Satellite Applications Program of the U.N. Institute for Training and Research), shows the flooding’s impact on Burma’s citizens along the Andaman coast:

UNOSAT

As you can see, standing flood water (red-pink areas) has unfortunately closely followed the denser populations (red/orange dots) of this agricultural region. And that’s why the cyclone’s toll has been so astoundingly high.