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Giri winds build in Arakan, ‘contact lost with residents’

New Delhi (Mizzima) – Cyclone Giri hit the western coast of Burma near Kyaukphyu, Arakan State at 5 p.m. yesterday, with winds of up to 120 miles per hour (193 km/h) per hour, the state weather bureau reported last night.

giri-enterAt 12:30 a.m. Burma time (6pm GMT), British analysts Tropical Storm Risk, at University College London, placed Giri over the western coast of Burma between Kyaukphyu and Sittwe, and said its winds had increased to a sustained 144 mph. Their storm tracker data puts already flood-ravaged Mandalay Division in its path.

The “red-level” cyclone swept through Kyaukphyu Township, and would trigger a storm surge as high as 12 feet (3.6 metres) there and in Ramree, Manaung, Sittwe, Pauktaw, Myebon, and Ponnagyun townships of the state, the Department of Meteorology and Hydrology said.  

After the cyclone hit Burma’s western Arakan coastal areas, it may move to the northeast, bringing heavy rainfall and landslides to Arakan and Chin states, Magway, Mandalay, and Sagaing divisions, it warned.

During the cyclone, wind speeds of 80-100 mph were expected over Arakan coastal areas and 45 mph over the Irrawaddy Delta region, the department said. The authorities also warned motorboats and fishing vessels to remain close to shore. 

Mizzima made numerous attempts to contact residents from Arakan State on Friday evening, but in vain.

Union Solidarity Development Party (USDP) candidate Dr. Tun Zan Aung, an ethnic Arakanese party member from Rangoon, told Mizzima: “I was able to contact my relatives in Manaung until around 12 a.m., but later, I could not. Before noon, the storm had not reached the town … Just a strong gale was blowing and rain was falling at that time. We haven’t been able to contact Manaung until now.”

A Toungup resident told Mizzima: “I heard that the cyclone severely hit Manaung and Kyaukphyu. I was able to contact my friends there until the evening. They said a very high tide had struck and that a strong gale had been blowing since noon. Currently, there’s heavy rain falling in the area.”

UN panel on North Indian Tropical Cyclones in 2000 agreed to assign names to the tropical cyclones in the North Indian Ocean. After long deliberations among the member countries, the naming of depressions developing into a Cyclonic Storm in the North Indian Ocean began from September 2004, with the first name assigned to Cyclone Onil, which developed over the Arabian Sea in late September 2004. As with Cyclone Giri, that name was assigned by the Indian weather bureau, IMD.

Each country gave eight names for the cyclones and a list of 64 names was prepared. It was also decided that the eight countries would take turns to name the cyclones. The IMD said at the time: “The practice of naming storms was adopted because it was proved that short names are easier to remember than numbers and other technical terms.”

Giri is the Sanskrit word for mountain. As a Sanskrit honorific it means “venerable, elevated, worshipful”.

Last Updated ( Saturday, 23 October 2010 01:26 )  

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