North Korea says nearly 120 killed after July rainfalls

Reuters News
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Posted: Aug 01, 2012 10:45 AM
North Korea says nearly 120 killed after July rainfalls

SEOUL (Reuters) - Recent torrential rain and a typhoon in North Korea have killed 119 people, made more than 84,000 homeless and destroyed some 46,000 hectares of crops, the official news agency said on Wednesday.

It is now feared that the rains and typhoon that led to floods in many parts of the impoverished country will deal a severe blow to North Korea's already malfunctioning economy and exacerbate its already serious food shortages.

"Downpours swept some east and west coastal areas of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea on July 29-30, leaving 31 people dead and 16 missing," the KCNA news agency said on Wednesday, using the country's official name.

This was on top of the damage KCNA previously reported as resulting from about a week of heavy rainfall and floods earlier in July, which led to 88 deaths and left thousands left homeless.

A United Nations inter-agency team was already deployed to the two hardest-hit areas to assess the damage from recent floods with a view to developing an aid plan, a U.N. official said on Tuesday.

Since the mid-1990s, North Korea's farm sector has frequently been devastated by floods and drought. The floods could weigh on Kim's efforts to buoy the moribund economy.

Landslides and lightning storms also led to some casualties while floods damaged some coal mines, North Korea's primary energy source, KCNA also reported on Wednesday.

North Korea remains one of the most isolated states in the world. That has not changed since new leader Kim Jong-un took power seven months ago.

A recent United Nations report classified 7.2 million of the 24 million population as "chronic poor" and said one in three children were stunted due to poor nutrition.

(Reporting by Ju-min Park; Editing by Choonsik Yoo and Jon Hemming)