Flooding kills dozens in North Korea, leaves thousands more homeless

Saturday, August 5, 2006

Flooding due to heavy rains has devastated North Korea (DPRK), leaving over 100 dead and thousands homeless. The United Nations' official figures give the death toll at 154, with 127 more missing. North Korean officials have said that hundreds have been killed.

However, The South Korean aid organisation Good Friends estimates that around 10,000 are dead or missing, with 1.5 million people homeless. While these figures have not been confirmed, the group's information has been found accurate in the past.

In response, the Red Cross of South Korea has offered aid which was turned down by Pyongyang, whose North Korean counterpart responded with "thanks for Seoul's offer" but said "it will handle the recovery efforts from recent floods by itself." North Korea has also refused other international offers of help, including from the World Food Programme.

The Red Cross has reported that over 7,000 homes were completely destroyed, with almost 13,000 families left homeless. Flooding has also affected almost a quarter of a million acres of farmland, further exacerbating food shortages. North Korea earlier refused a South Korean food aid package conditioned on a return to talks over North Korea's nuclear programme. Later, following DPRK's missile tests, South Korea had announced a suspension of the aid programme.

Private groups in South Korea have announced plans to send aid shipments, which are expected to be accepted by DPRK.