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October 24, 2019

Natural disaster or man-made?

  • By Ko Ko Aung
  • Photo shows an aerial view of the area of deadly landslide that struck a village in Paung Township in August, 2019. Photo: Ko Zaw Min

Different kinds of dangers occur daily in different parts of the world; floods, fire, storm, earthquake and landslide have caused a lot of dangers, pushing millions of people to flee their shelters with loss of their properties and collapses of their houses and buildings.
People have faced a lot of problems—injuries, illnesses, loss of lives, destruction of crops, mental disorders and social ills such as continuation of education and a crisis of survival.
Disaster should be viewed with three categories of natural disaster, man-made disaster and disaster caused by human involvement. Natural disasters have begun since the beginning of our planet earth. Such disasters do not involve human activities nor conditions done by human beings. Emergence of earthquakes, tsunami, volcanic eruptions are good examples of natural disasters. Man-made disasters came after social civilization; fire, collapses of bridges and buildings, dams, radiation and chemical poisons are man-made disasters.
The third one involves creating human activities for their own advantages. For instant, raising the level of sea water, global warming, emergence of extreme climates, disorderly weather, severe drought and abnormal flooding are disasters caused by human involvement. The emergence of storms, landslides, collapses of mountains could occur due to either natural phenomena or human deeds.
Such disasters are normally named natural disasters, but they could happen because of industrialization, excessive carbon emissions, deforestation, mining and explosions of quarries.
The emergence of a storm depends of three fundamental factors; the factor is low pressure area followed by the second factor of high temperatures on the sea water and third one is the acidity rate high on low pressure area. The earth rotates at a sloping 23 degree centigrade around its own axis and completes one revolution around the sun about 365 days, thus making the wind move quickly here and there as the result of natural forces on earth. As a consequence, low pressure area and high pressure area occur all over the world.
Although low pressure area is a natural phenomenon on the sea water, the high temperature and high acidity rate are consequences relating to human deeds. Excessive carbon dioxide emissions cause high temperatures on land and sea areas; trees and sea and ocean water absorb continuously carbon dioxide produced on earth, thus raising acidity rate in the sea water. The storm is fundamentally natural phenomenon. It frequently occurs due to human deeds, causing more dangers and loss of lives.
Similarly, landslides and collapse of mountains are natural phenomena of geological movements of underground water currents due to human deeds. Earth-digging, mining and explosions of quarries, extension of land areas, transportation of earth and rocks from the mountain sides in order to pave the roads, creation of mountain-top pond and lake, creation of a new cultivation after clearing natural weeds and that of artificial waterfalls on the mountain sides. Creation of spring gates and felling of perennial trees, construction of buildings on the mountain sides and river banks without systematic construction of earth walls and installations of towers of human deeds cause landslides, collapses of mountain edges and river banks.
The Social Security and Rescue and Rehabilitation Ministry ,headed by Vice-President U Henry Van Thio as Chairman and the Ministry’s Deputy Minister as Secretary, was composed of Union Ministers, Nay Pyi Taw Council Chairman, States and Regions Prime Ministers; an advisory committee was formed to give valuable advice to the Ministry. As I am a professional analyst for disasters, I usually submit an advice on disasters at meetings at main committee and the advisory committee.
Personal field trips to the States for analysis were made in order to submit suggestions to the main committee and the Governments concerned.
In last August, the field trips to Paung township, Mon State were made to enquire the landslides and the collapses of the mountains in order to submit the findings, considerations and suggestions under the given duties of the management committee on natural disasters from 27-30 August; these trips were also made to Mawlamyine township, Mon State, Zengyaik and Kwaychan villages. I was accompanied by Dr. Soe Lwin Nyein, an advisor for public health, irrigation expert U Victor and U Ye Htwe, a management expert on natural disasters.
Upon arrival in Mawlanmyine township, Mon State, we discussed with the State Government officials, headed by the State Prime Minister about the programs on the field trips at a meeting room of the State Government Office. On 28th August, our group of experts together with the Minister for the Immigration and Manpower Ministry of the State visited the sites of landslides and collapses of the mountains in Paung township which caused loss of lives and also to 12 sites where landslides and collapses of mountains could probably occur. Based on the field trips made to these areas in Thephugon village and the foot of the Malat Mountain in Paung township, we can conclude that the disasters were perhaps the result of human activity rather than any geological processes. Extension of land areas after the explosions of the mountains, earth-digging and its transportation according to the local populace who speak about these activities from an eyewitness account.
Because of these activities, Malat Mountain and nearby mountains where earth and rocks stand solid; heavy rainfalls occur in these mountains due to seeping water into the soil and rocks on the top and sides of the mountains. The pebble formation of Malat mountain is not similar to those of nearby mountains, collapsing at the rapid rate within a period of seconds, leading to loss of properties and lives.
Among the 12 sites inspected by our group, reoccurance of the sites during the rainy season and all-season collapsible are found and precautionary measures should be taken against them, by submitting the suggestions to the State Government. During the field trips to Paung township, Mon State, as the delegates of Mon State Government and those from Immigration and Manpower Ministry are hereby highly praised for their active participation. However, reoccurance of dangers in Paung township could not be done without the participation of the service personnel, to the disappointment of our group upon the State Government.
In conclusion, there are a lot of dangers in the present day. People alone could not do anything against these disasters; the incumbent government and local populace in their respective States and Regions must take serious care against these disasters which usually happen due to human deeds.

Translated by Arakan Sein

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