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:


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


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:


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.


Khatami: We are terrorists


Former Iranian president and leading moderate Mohamad Khatami is taking some heat from the hardliners over some intriguing comments he made last week:

What did the imam (Khomeini) mean by exporting the revolution?" he asked in the speech Friday to university students in the northern province of Gilan, according to the Kargozaran newspaper.

"Did he mean that we take up arms, that we blow up places in other nations and we create groups to carry out sabotage in other countries? The imam was vehemently against this and was confronting it," he added.

As you might expect, Khatami is being branded as a traitor for these remarks, notwithstanding his (dubious) claims about Khomenei's views:

It is obvious that Mr Khatami must answer for his anti-patriotic comments and explain why he has taken such a stance," said [hardline Iranian newspaper] Kayhan, whose editor-in-chief is appointed by supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. [...]

"Mr Khatami has to make it clear whether using fervent martyrdom-seeking young men to combat occupiers is an ugly and violent act or a fully human and admirable one?" demanded [one conservative] MP.

No word yet on whether the former president has been regularly sporting the flag of the Islamic Republic on his tunic.