[QODLink]
Asia-Pacific
Scores killed in North Korea floods
Flooding through July leaves 88 people dead, tens of thousands homeless and farmland devastated, state media reports.
Last Modified: 29 Jul 2012 00:24
Rugged terrain and outdated agricultural practices have caused major problems in producing enough food [Al Jazeera]

Flooding across North Korea this month has killed 88 people, left tens of thousands homeless and devastated swathes of farmland, state media has said.

A week of floods "caused by typhoon and downpour... claimed big human and material losses", Pyongyang's official news agency said on Saturday.

The new death toll was a dramatic increase from the figure of eight reported on Wednesday.

A total of 134 people were injured and almost 63,000 people were left homeless by the floods, which started on July 18, the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reported, with thousands of houses damaged or destroyed.

The biggest loss of human life was in two counties of South Pyongan province, which were hit by torrential rains on Monday and Tuesday, it said.

More than 30,000 hectares (74,000 acres) of land for growing crops was "washed away and buried" or "submerged", KCNA said, a blow for a state that is already beset by persistent severe food shortages.

Emergency order

With rugged terrain and outmoded agricultural practices, the country faces serious difficulties in feeding its 24 million people.

Hundreds of thousands died during a famine in the mid to late-1990s.

UN agencies, after a visit to the North, estimated last November that three million people would need food aid in 2012.

About 300 public buildings and 60 factories were damaged in the floods, as well as large stretches of road, KCNA said.

State media reported earlier this week that 60 flood victims were rescued thanks to a helicopter urgently sent by leader Kim Jong-Un.

The victims, including children and women, were trapped Monday on a hillock in the northwest of the country after a river flooded due to heavy rain, the official news agency said.

"Isolated incommunicado, they did not find a way out, in panic at rising water. At that time a helicopter appeared," it said.

"After receiving an urgent report, the dear respected Kim Jong-Un issued an emergency sortie order to a unit of the Air Force of the Korean People's Army."

Deforestation

After decades of deforestation, North Korea is particularly vulnerable to flooding.

Dozens were killed or injured by a storm and torrential rain in the North in June and July last year. Thousands were also made homeless and large areas of farmland were flooded.

The United States reached a deal on February 29 this year to offer North Korea badly needed food aid in return for a freeze on nuclear and missile tests.

But it rescinded the plan after the North's failed rocket launch in April, seen by Washington and its allies as an attempted ballistic missile test.

The North has been developing nuclear weapons for decades and staged two nuclear tests in 2006 and 2009.

449

Source:
Agencies
Topics in this article
People
Country
City
Organisation
Featured on Al Jazeera
'Justice for All' demonstrations swell across the US over the deaths of African Americans in police encounters.
Six former Guantanamo detainees are now free in Uruguay with some hailing the decision to grant them asylum.
Disproportionately high number of Aboriginal people in prison highlights inequality and marginalisation, critics say.
Nearly half of Canadians have suffered inappropriate advances on the job - and the political arena is no exception.
Featured
Women's rights activists are demanding change after Hanna Lalango, 16, was gang-raped on a bus and left for dead.
Buried in Sweden's northern forest, Sorsele has welcomed many unaccompanied kids who help stabilise a town exodus.
A look at the changing face of North Korea, three years after the death of 'Dear Leader'.
While some fear a Muslim backlash after café killings, solidarity instead appears to be the order of the day.
Victims spared by the deadly disease are reporting blindness and other unexpected post-Ebola health issues.