SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — More than 4,700 homes in one North Korean province were destroyed or damaged by extensive flooding spawned by torrential rains in late July, according to a Red Cross report.
The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies also said that more than 28,000 people were affected by the July 25-27 rains in South Hwanghae province in the impoverished country’s southwest.
The report on the province released this week gave no independent estimate of how many people died, but cited a North Korean government death toll of 26. The Red Cross said 96 people were injured.
Heavy rain can be catastrophic for North Korea due to poor drainage, deforestation and dilapidated infrastructure. Floods in 2007 left some 600 people dead or missing and about 100,000 others homeless.
Particularly heavy rainfall pounded the Korean peninsula in late July. Flooding and landslides caused dozens of deaths in South Korea as well.
North Korea’s state news agency reported Friday that the heavy rains caused flooding that killed about 30 people and left almost 16,000 homeless. The Korean Central News Agency did not provide a breakdown by region, but described South Hwanghae as the “largest victim.”
North Korea, which perennially suffers food shortages, has said that harvests will likely be hurt this year because of extensive damage to farmland.
A total of 4,753 homes were either destroyed or damaged in South Hwanghae, according to the Red Cross report. Of that total, 2,901 were demolished.
The Red Cross said “food, clean water, shelter, basic supplies and reconstruction of dwellings” were urgently needed and that it and North Korea’s Red Cross have sent assistance to the area.
KCNA reported Thursday that leader Kim Jong Il sent a reply to Chinese President Hu Jintao expressing thanks for having sent a message of sympathy over the flooding. China, which has offered flood relief to North Korea, is the country’s closest ally.
South Korea has also offered aid, but North Korea has yet to respond.
North Korean weather forecasters are predicting more heavy rain Monday and Tuesday in parts of the country due to a typhoon heading for neighboring China.