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Disaster warning: Odd and peculiar department

The Times of India has many critics on account of its pursuit of moolah, but still, it is a serious newspaper. UNISDR is a serious organization that is part of the UN system. One assumes the Senior Communication Officer of UNSIDR is not a flake. But the story below causes me to rethink all those assumptions.

Brigitte Leoni, senior communication officer of the UNISDR, writes about the importance of Maya’s hurricane early warning system that has not only helped in averting severe disaster casualties but also helped in development of modern tools.

The Maya early warning system, says Leoni, is housed in the clifftop Templo Dios del Viento, or Temple of the God of the Wind, in Tulum, a Maya site that had its heyday in the years 1200 to 1450.

“The temple contains an intricate web of holes that cause an extremely loud whistling sound when early hurricane-force winds blow in from the Caribbean sea towards Tulum,” she explains.

By the time hurricane-strength winds start the temple holes whistling, the hurricane is more or less on land (the temple is on the coast). That leaves little time for evacuation.

Why this is of any relevance today when weather satellites can tell us a storm is coming days in advance is a puzzle. May be UNISDR should get itself a more knowledgeable communication officer? And the Times of India should get a better editor?

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