10 000s left homeless in N Korea floods

2012-07-28 18:00
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Pyongyang - Flooding across impoverished North Korea this month has killed 88 people, left tens of thousands homeless and devastated swathes of farmland, state media said on Saturday.

A week of floods "caused by typhoon and downpour... claimed big human and material losses", Pyongyang's official news agency said. The new death toll was a dramatic increase from the figure of eight reported on Wednesday.

A total of 134 people were injured and almost 63 000 people were left homeless by the floods, which started on 18 July, the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reported, with thousands of houses damaged or destroyed.

The biggest loss of human life was in two counties of South Pyongan province, which were hit by torrential rains on Monday and Tuesday, it said.

More than 30 000ha of land for growing crops was "washed away and buried" or "submerged", KCNA said, a potential blow for a state that is beset by persistent severe food shortages.

With rugged terrain and outmoded agricultural practices, the country faces serious difficulties in feeding its 24 million people. Hundreds of thousands died during a famine in the mid to late-1990s.

UN agencies, after a visit to the North, estimated last November that three million people would need food aid in 2012.

After decades of deforestation, the impoverished country is particularly vulnerable to flooding.

The United States reached a deal on 29 February this year to offer North Korea badly needed food aid in return for a freeze on nuclear and missile tests.

But it rescinded the plan after the North's failed rocket launch in April, seen by the United States and its allies as an attempted ballistic missile test.

The North has been developing nuclear weapons for decades and staged two nuclear tests in 2006 and 2009.

Read more on:    north korea  |  floods  |  weather
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