North Korea is seeking the help of the United Nations' food relief agency in the wake of massive flooding there that has reportedly killed hundreds of people.

According to its state-run news agency, 30,000 buildings have been damaged or destroyed since heavy rains began falling last week.  The rains also have washed away tens of thousands of hectares of farmland, raising concerns about a possible food shortage.

Officials at the U.N. World Food Program said Tuesday that Pyongyang has already made a preliminary request for aid. Officials said the agency will send a team to North Korea to assess the damage.

In addition to the U.N., South Korea's Unification Ministry said Tuesday it is exploring ways to help the north.  A U.S. State Department spokesman said Washington is also looking for ways to provide humanitarian aid.

North Korea's southern and eastern provinces of Kangwon, North Hwanghae and South Hamyong have suffered some of the worst damage.

The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies is monitoring the situation.

Last year, North Korea said a typhoon and heavy monsoon rains left hundreds of people dead or missing, and destroyed tens of thousands of buildings.  In response, the South Korean Red Cross delivered 100,000 tons of rice and $27 million worth of construction supplies and equipment.

South Korea's Unification Ministry said today it expects this year's flood damage to be worse than last year.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and Reuters.