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Huge damage to public infrastructure after floods in North Korea, state media says

Impoverished North Korea, largely barren mountains and hills on account of deforestation, is vulnerable to natural disasters, especially floods. In photo: Flooding in the country's South Phongan province in 2012. Photograph: (AFP)

Seoul, South Korea Sep 11, 2016, 03.21 AM (IST)
Floods have caused immense hardship to the people in North Korea and the massive deluge has also damaged tens of thousands of buildings following the worst downpour in decades, state media said today urging all soldiers and civilians to join a drive to help victims.

The report, which appeared on the official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA), however, did not give the death toll or exact figures for the damage. It stated that "tens of thousands" of homes and public buildings had collapsed and railways, roads, power supplies, factories and farmland had been destroyed or submerged, adding that people in North Hamgyong province were suffering "great hardship."

A UN report last week, citing government data, said 60 people had been killed and over 44,000 were homeless along the north-eastern Tumen River, which partially marks the border with China and Russia.

An ongoing 200-day mass mobilisation campaign that aimed at boosting the economy will now be redirected towards helping flood victims, the report states quoting the central committee of the ruling Worker's Party. 

The objective is to "direct all efforts to the construction of dwelling houses to provide flood-hit people with warm cradles and turn the flood-battered region into a fairyland in the era of the Workers' Party within this year."

Impoverished North Korea, largely barren mountains and hills on account of deforestation, is vulnerable to natural disasters, especially floods, since rainwater flows unchecked. In 2012, at least 169 people were killed by a massive rainstorm in summer. 

A series of floods and droughts was partially responsible for a famine that killed hundreds of thousands between 1994-98, with economic mismanagement and the loss of Soviet support exacerbating the situation.

Meanwhile, the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) is planning fresh sanctions on the nation after it staged its fifth nuclear weapons test on Friday.

(WION with inputs from AFP)
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