The Heat Is Online

North Korea Floods Leave 600 People Dead

Report: 600 dead from N. Korea floods

State media says 100,000 left homeless, 8,000 public buildings destroyed


The Associated Press, Aug 25, 2007


SEOUL, South Korea - Floods that swept across North Korea earlier this month killed at least 600 people, double the previously known toll, the countrys official news agency said Saturday.


Citing North Koreas Central Statistics Bureau, the Korean Central News Agency reported at least 600 people were dead or missing and thousands were injured. The report was the first in North Korean media to specify a precise death toll from the disaster.


Earlier, international aid groups estimated about 300 were dead or missing.


KCNA said the heavy rains caused huge material losses to the country, creating unprecedented difficulties in peoples living and economic construction.


At least 100,000 people were left homeless and more than 8,000 public buildings were totally or partially destroyed, it said.

More than 1,000 factory or mining buildings were damaged or submerged by the torrential rains, and lots of arable land was washed away, the report said.


The rains also flooded four railroad tunnels and triggered landslides that buried at least 200 sections of track, it said. Thousands of sections of roads and bridges also were destroyed, KCNA said.


The week of severe rainstorms was the countrys heaviest rainfall in 40 years.


Impoverished North Korea has been widely publicizing the damage while openly seeking outside help  an unusual move seen as a sign of desperation for a country often reluctant to acknowledge any internal problems.


Jo Yong Nam, head of North Koreas recovery efforts, said the flood damage, when calculated in financial terms, was 10 times worse than floods last year, a pro-North Korean newspaper in Japan reported Thursday.


On Friday, the United Nations said it will launch an appeal this coming week for between $15 million and $20 million to help about 400,000 North Koreans affected by the floods.


U.N. Assistant Secretary-General Margareta Wahlstrom, the deputy emergency relief coordinator, said the appeal will only focus on immediate emergency needs  food, medical care, water and sanitation.


South Korea delivered the first part of a $7.5 million emergency aid package to North Korea on Thursday including instant noodles, drinking water, blankets and medicine.


© 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved


'Hundreds dead' in North Korea floods, Aug. 14, 2007


Flooding in North Korea that has killed hundreds of people is worse than last year's massive floods, officials have told the World Food Programme (WFP).


North Korea was devastated by seasonal floods in August last year. Hundreds of people are thought to have died, although exact figures are not known.


Heavy rain has swollen rivers, flooding huge areas of farmland and destroying thousands of homes, state media said.

North Korean authorities have asked the WFP, the UN's food agency, for help.


"Our understanding is that the damage is very extensive. It has affected a greater area than the floods of last year," Paul Risley of the World Food Programme told the BBC News website.


North Korea's official news agency KCNA said Kangwon province has been the worst hit, with 20,000 homes damaged.


'Unceasing rain'


Television pictures from the capital Pyongyang showed people wading along streets through thigh-deep water after rivers burst their banks.


Michael Dunford of the WFP in Pyongyang said that a team was going to assess the damage, while South Korea was looking into sending aid, Deputy Unification Minister Seo Sung-woo in Seoul said.

Storms since 7 August had led to "huge human and material damage", KCNA said.


Hundreds of persons are dead or missing and more than 30,000 houses have been destroyed across the country, it added.


At least 800 public buildings, more than 540 bridges and sections of railway were reportedly destroyed by the rain.


"This unceasing heavy rain destroyed the nation's major railways, roads and bridges, suspended power supply and cut off the communications network," the agency said.


As well as Kangwon, North Hwanghae and South Hamgyong provinces were also badly affected.


North Korea is secretive about releasing full details of accidents or natural disasters, making any confirmation of the extent of the flooding difficult.


But North Korean officials told the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies that 200 people were dead or missing, acting delegation head Terje Lysholm told the Associated Press news agency.


'Long-term concern'


Experts believe that deforestation has made seasonal flooding in North Korea worse.


Farmers have extended arable land into hills and forests in order to grow more food, removing the foliage that prevents erosion and landslides.


North Korea does not produce enough food to feed its population and is reliant on foreign food aid.


Mr Dunford said that the floods could constitute an extensive disaster for North Korea.


"This is something that will evolve throughout the rest of the growing season, determining exactly how much of the crop and the harvest has been lost," he told the BBC.


"But certainly North Korea is a food insecure country, it produces less food than required, so to lose any of the harvest will be a long-term concern for the North Korean authorities and for the World Food Programme."


About two million people are thought to have died from famine in the mid-1990s in North Korea.