When The Sea Comes Up Like Thunder
And the flying fishes play
O'er the landscape underwater
On the road to Mandalay
Stop reading Goddam Kipling
There's a cyclone on the way
Burma's PR campaign marched on as Kipling's original rhyme became a tragic reality. Flying fishes ruled Myanmar's highways last week as Cyclone Nargis sucked in a dome of Andaman seawater five meters high and forty kilometers across, and bore it , flying fish and all, a hundred kilometers inland , dissolving half the Irawaddy delta into a flowing mudscape that is still running out to sea into a broad diagonal swath that literally extends to the road to Mandalay running north from Yangon.
With over 25,000 square kilometers under water, the death toll from this perfect cyclone may come within a factor of two of the 2004 Boxing Day tsunami. The storm surge obliterated most of the coast and Irrawaddy delta reclaimed by ricefield poldiering and levee construction under the British Empire ,and in the two generations since.
I suspect Kipling had jumping Asian carp glimpsed from a Mississippi-style steamboat of the Irawaddy Flotilla in mind, but there is no report as to whether The Old Moulmein Pagoda weathered the storm.
If the Goon Show in Yangoon goes on holding up foreign aid, the Burmese may come up like thunder, before too many dawns have passed.
Before & after satellite photos of Burma.