Accessibility links

Torrential Rains Hit North Korea - 2001-08-04

North Korea says torrential rains over the past week have left at least 10,000 people homeless and resulted in scores of casualties. The flooding comes on top of a severe drought.

North Korea's official news agency says several regions on the east and west coasts have been hit by 50-70 percent of annual rainfall over a five day period. The report says more rain is forecast in coming days.

The report, monitored by Western news agencies in Seoul, says early estimates put the damage at tens of billions of dollars. It says that could increase as authorities make their way to remote areas cut off by flood waters. It says roads, railways and bridges have been washed away, and communication lines severed. The report says the rains flooded thousands of hectares of cultivated land, compounding damage from a prolonged drought that had already destroyed crops.

The impoverished, communist nation of 23 million people has suffered from floods, drought and other natural disasters since 1995, and is heavily dependent on international aid to alleviate severe food shortages and economic problems.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Il is currently on a rare trip out of the country for meetings in Moscow with Russian President Vladimir Putin to discuss economic aid, among other things. The North Korean news agency says the country's ceremonial head of state, Kim Yong Nam, met the head of the International Red Cross in Pyongyang Friday to discuss humanitarian aid.

The World Food Program and U.N. Food and Agricultural Organization warned in a joint report issued Monday that this year's drought has severely undermined North Korea's already fragile food supply. The agencies appealed to the international community for increased food aid.