Millennium Post

N Korea floods leave 133 dead, 395 missing: UN

Severe flooding in a North Korean border region has killed at least 133 people with another 395 missing and thousands of homes swept away, the UN says, after Pyongyang reported “great hardship” in the area.

Some 107,000 people have been forced to flee their homes in the area along the Tumen River, the world body Monday said in a statement, which cited Pyongyang government figures.

The North’s official media has described the downpour, which led to the floods near the northeastern border with China and Russia as the worst since decades, and said it brought severe hardship to residents. It says a nationwide mass-mobilisation 200-day labour campaign intended to bolster the economy has been redirected to assist the flood victims.

The impoverished nation is vulnerable to natural disasters, especially floods, due to deforestation and poor infrastructure.  At least 169 people were killed in a rainstorm in the summer of 2012.

Major state resources are swallowed up by a missile and nuclear weapons programme, which Pyongyang says is essential to deter US aggression. More than 35,500 houses have been hit by the latest floods, with 69 per cent of them completely destroyed, and 8,700 public buildings damaged, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said in a statement, dated Sunday.

Around 16,000 hectares (39,540 acres) of farmland have been inundated and at least 140,000 people urgently need help, it said.

OCHA said a group of UN agencies, international NGOs, the international Red Cross and the North’s Red Cross had visited parts of the flood-stricken region last week to assess needs. It said aid agencies have released material from stockpiles in the North such as food, shelter and kitchen kits and water purification and health supplies.

The North’s government was working urgently to reopen roads and was distributing relief goods and building materials. The priority was to rebuild 20,000 homes by early October, before the bitter Korean winter sets in. 
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