Miami Herald

Disputed isle in Bay of Bengal vanishes into sea

- BY NIRMALA GEORGE

NEW DELHI — For nearly 30 years, India and Bangladesh have argued over control of a tiny rock island in the Bay of Bengal. Now rising sea levels have resolved the dispute for them: The island’s gone.

New Moore Island in the Sunderbans has been completely submerged, said oceanograp­her Sugata Hazra, a professor at Jadavpur University in Kolkata, India.

Its disappeara­nce has been confirmed by satellite imagery and sea patrols, he said.

“What these two countries could not achieve from years of talking, has been resolved by global warming,” said Hazra.

Scientists at the School of Oceanograp­hic Studies at the university have noted an alarming increase in the rate at which sea levels have risen over the past decade in the Bay of Bengal.

Until 2000, the sea levels rose about 0.12 inches a year, but over the last decade they have been rising about 0.2 inches annually, he said.

Another nearby island, Lohachara, was submerged in 1996, forcing its inhabitant­s to move to the main- land, while almost half the land of Ghoramara island was underwater, he said. At least 10 other islands in the area were at risk as well, Hazra said.

“We will have ever larger numbers of people dis- placed from the Sunderbans as more island areas come under water,” he said.

Bangladesh, a low-lying delta nation of 150 million people, is one of the countries worst-affected by global warming. Officials estimate 18 percent of Bangladesh’s coastal area will be underwater and 20 million people will be displaced if sea levels rise 3.3 feet by 2050 as projected by some climate models.

India and Bangladesh both claimed the empty New Moore Island, which is about 2 miles long and 1.5 miles wide. Bangladesh referred to the island as South Talpatti.

There were no permanent structures on New Moore, but India sent some paramilita­ry soldiers to its rocky shores in 1981 to hoist its national flag.

The demarcatio­n of the maritime boundary — and who controls the remaining islands — remains an open issue between the two South Asian neighbors, despite the disappeara­nce of New Moore, said an official in India’s foreign ministry, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak on internatio­nal disputes.

 ?? BIKAS DAS/AP ?? GLOBAL WARMING: New Moore Island in the Bay of Bengal has been completely submerged. Its disappeara­nce has been confirmed by satellite imagery.
BIKAS DAS/AP GLOBAL WARMING: New Moore Island in the Bay of Bengal has been completely submerged. Its disappeara­nce has been confirmed by satellite imagery.

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