Hazard Profile of Myanmar
The Union of Myanmar is exposed to multiple hazards including Cyclone, Earthquake, Floods, Drought, Fires, Landslide and Tsunami. It has been periodically hit by natural disasters the most recent one of which are Earthquake in March 2011 (M: 7 RS) in Eastern Shan State, the Cyclone Giri 2010, the Cyclone Nargis 2008, and Indian Ocean Tsunami 2004.
Myanmar falls in seismically active zone, especially the urban centers including Yangon, Mandalay, Magwe. The earthquake originates from two main causes namely result of collision between the northward moving Indian Plate underneath the Burma Plate and the northward movement of the Burma Plate from a spreading center in the Andaman Sea. In last 80 years, at least 18 large earthquakes (7 or more on RS) had happened.
Myanmar is prone to Tsunami and it has faced at least 3 Tsunamis in last 2,800 years. The 2004, Tsunami caused moderate damage that includes loss of 61 lives and affected 2,592 households. Out of three, two coastal areas - the Northwest coast in Rakhine State and the Delta in the middle in Ayeyarwady Region fall under moderate zone to Tsunami hazard. Both areas were the most affected from 2004 Tsunami with the total 2,000 affected population.
The Fire hazard is the most frequent hazard and accounts for approximately 70 percent of the disasters. Though the number of fire cases (900 annually) is decreasing, the losses (0.9 mn USD annually) shows the increasing trend. The high incidences of fire cases are concentrated mainly in Yangon, Mandalay, Ayeyarwady, Sagaing and Bago. The high incidences of fire in Myanmar are due to climatic conditions including temperature, use of flammable construction materials and unplanned development.
The Dry zone is located in central part of the country in Magway, Mandalay and Sagaing (lower) Regions and covers approx. 10 % of total area. It falls under arid to semi-arid zone as per different zonation the average annual precipitation is below 1000mm. 54 townships spread across 13 districts in these 3 Regios fall under the Dry zone.
The landslides of various scale occurs in mountainous regions especially in the Western Ranges and some localities in the Eastern Highland of Myanmar. The collapses of river bank are found along the Ayeyarwady River and its distributaries. The Western ranges have experienced all types of landslide and earth movement such as rock falls, rock slides, soil avalanche and mud flows. Due to the sparsely populated areas, the direct impact of landslide in this region is damage of infrastructure rather than human settlement. The recent landslides happened in 1991 which damaged many houses due to ground cracks, in 2003 that caused casualties and damages and in 2004 in Sagaing Region in rainy season destroying bridges and causing minor rock falls and soil slides on the main road.
Floods: Flooding accounts for 11% of all disasters. The threat of flooding usually occurred in three waves: June, August and late September to October with biggest danger arriving in August as peak monsoon rains occurred around that time. Different types of floods experienced by the country are Riverine flood in the southern river delta, Flash floods in the mountainous areas in Kayin, Kachin, Shan, Mon and Chin States, localized floods in urban area and flooding due to cyclone and storm surge in coastal areas. In the cities and towns, localized floods occur compared to the rural areas. Approximately 2 million population is exposed to floods.
Myanmar, having a long coastline along the Bay of Bengal, is considered to be highly cyclone prone and is affected mostly from the cyclone in the month of April, May and October as per last 100 years record. Previous frequency of cyclones that made rainfall on Myanmar coast was just once in about three years, but since the year 2000, cyclones crosses Myanmar coast every year. According to the 1947-2008 data, 35 cyclones have made landfall on Myanmar coast with the highest probability at northern cost in Sittwe, followed by Maundaw and decreasing towards lower Ayeyarwady delta, while the living memory Myanmar has never observed the Bay of Bengal Cyclones on the southern coast. In last four decades, six major cyclones hit Myanmar including Cyclone Mala 2006, Cyclone Nargis of 2008 and Cyclone Giri of 2010.
Myanmar has a very a long coastline and densely settled low-lying land are particularly vulnerable to rising sea levels and as per the IPCC report, a rise in sea level of one centimeter can result in beach erosion of one meter horizontally. The low-lying areas of Myanmar's Ayeyarwady Delta, interspersed with many tidal waterways, are naturally exposed to storms and monsoon winds blowing from the southwest. Rising sea levels, stronger cyclones and ecosystem degradation mutually reinforce each other, exacerbating the fallout from seaward disasters. In 2 and 3 of May 2008, 90 percent of deaths were caused as a direct consequence of the storm surge.