Thousands of rats have descended on villages on an island in southern Myanmar, a local official said on Tuesday, in what some have taken to be an ill omen of impending disaster.
Residents of Haingyi island, one of the larger islands in the Irrawaddy Delta, have been battling the plague of rodents since the critters scurried into their villages over the weekend.
Short of pied pipers, desperate authorities have resorted to paying residents 50 kyat (four US cents) for each dead animal in a bid to contain the outbreak.
“More than 4,000 rats have been killed since they tried to enter the villages,” regional MP Phyo Zaw Shwe told AFP.
“According to traditional beliefs, these animals can predict bad weather. So people here are also worried about floods or earthquakes.”
Studies by Japanese scientists have shown mice and rats are sensitive to electromagnetic waves similar to what often occurs before a major earthquake—although there has been no notable seismic activity in Myanmar the last few days.
Compare this story to p. 68 of “Black Death and Abrupt Earth Changes in the 14th Century” (side bar).