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Burmese official downplays cold weather warning

Jan 21, 2009 (DVB), While meteorologists in India have forecast freezing temperatures in northern India and Burma, a Burmese official has denied that there is anything unusual about the unseasonably cold weather.

Indian newspapers have published advice from the government on how the public should protect themselves against the severe weather conditions.

Tun Lwin, director of Burma’s Department of Meteorology and Hydrology, said the cold spell was not unusual for this time of year.

"It is likely to be cold up until the end of the month but it is a regular cold season. It is not really anything new. There is no record breaking temperature," Tun Lwin said.

"Temperatures have dropped to freezing point in places like Hakha [the capital of Chin state in western Burma] but that is normal," he said.

"The temperature is also at about freezing point in places like Shan State [in eastern Burma]."

The Burmese meteorology department has issued daily weather reports since 1988, but it has never issued warnings of predicted heat waves or cold snaps.

Before Cyclone Nargis hit Burma last year, the department dismissed warnings from its Indian counterparts and the American naval typhoon warning centre in Guam and said there would be no unusual conditions.

Cold weather warnings have also been issued in neighbouring Thailand, where the government last week declared emergency zones across much of the north of the country.

Reporting by Khin Maung Soe Min


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