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UN: Tens of Thousands Without Drinking Water in N. Korea


A handout photo dated July 31, 2012 shows North Korean residents waving as they receive relief goods from DPRK Red Cross Society (RCS) after rain-triggered floods hit Songchon county, South Pyongan Province.

A handout photo dated July 31, 2012 shows North Korean residents waving as they receive relief goods from DPRK Red Cross Society (RCS) after rain-triggered floods hit Songchon county, South Pyongan Province.

The United Nations says a series of devastating floods has left tens of thousands of North Korean families without clean water and at risk of a disease outbreak.

In a report Thursday, the U.N. and several aid agencies said two weeks of torrential rains have caused floods that have contaminated drinking water wells and washed away numerous hospital facilities.

Quoting government figures, the report said the bad weather has left over 60,000 people homeless. It said there has been major damage to crops in the communist country, which already suffers from chronic food shortages.

Earlier this week, U.N. staff members visited two flood-hit regions of the country to investigate damage and assess needs. But the report said it remains difficult to determine the exact humanitarian condition or its long-term impact on food supplies.

The official Korean Central News Agency has reported at least 119 deaths from the bad weather.

The U.N. report said government figures indicate that over 50,000 people are without access to clean water. Many areas are using wells that have been contaminated by sewage. There is already an increase in diarrhea in some regions.

A recent U.N. report said two-thirds of North Korea's 24 million people face chronic food shortages. Analysts say the latest flooding could make matters worse, since it came at the end of a drought. Many parts of North Korea have become prone to flooding because of deforestation.
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