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Foreigners Report Continuing Power Cuts in N. Korean Capital

FILE - View from the Taedong River of the construction of apartment buildings for faculty members of Kim Ch'aek University of Technology in this undated photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) in Pyongyang, May 21, 2014.

Foreigners living in the North Korean capital say they are still experiencing multiple power cuts a day, a possible sign that the country might be suffering severe power shortages because of a long drought that has also cut the country’s crop production.

In an e-mail to the VOA Korean service Wednesday, Thomas Fisler, the Swiss Development Cooperation’s Pyongyang director, said they are facing “multiple power cuts per day, even in the diplomatic compounds.”

“Right now, we experience about three to four power cuts per day at intervals of 15 minutes up to an hour,” Fisler wrote. But he said the situation was worse during the winter when the power cuts lasted for several hours per day and sometimes interrupted hourly.

Brazilian Ambassador to North Korea Roberto Colin said he is also experiencing power cuts, also adding that the situation is better than last winter.

“I do not experience more [frequent] power cuts than before. The situation was worse last winter with more frequent cuts and low tension,” Colin wrote in an e-mail to VOA.

As for a possible cause for power cuts, Fisler said, “I commonly read as well that the limited hydropower impacts the situation.”

In a report released earlier this month, the United Nations said there has been a lack of potable water in the North and the country’s hydropower production has dipped due to dry weather over the past 18 months.

The Washington Post reported earlier this week that North Korea is facing a devastating drought and severe power shortages. The paper added the communist country generates more than 60 percent of its electricity from hydropower.

Last week, the North’s state-run Korea Central News Agency said the country is experiencing “the worst drought in 100 years” and the drought is “causing great damage to its agricultural fields.”

The U.N. World Food Program warned that the North could face further food shortages later this year if the drought continues.

Jee Abbey Lee contributed to this report, which was produced in collaboration with the VOA Korean service.

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