North Korea Floods

HONG KONG (CNN) -- Heavy rain across large swathes of North Korea has caused widespread flooding and killed dozens of people, state media reported, with warnings of more damage still to come.

The downpours have been rolling over the impoverished country for more than a week, sweeping away crops and destroying buildings, the state-run Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said in reports over the weekend.

As of Saturday, 88 people had died and 134 had been injured, KCNA said. It reported that more than 5,000 houses had been destroyed or damaged and 12,030 homes inundated, leaving nearly 63,000 people homeless.

And the torrential rain persisted into Monday, causing further chaos.

"Most areas of the DPRK are expected to suffer big damage from continuous downpour accompanied by thunder and storm," KCNA reported Monday, using the abbreviation of the country's official name, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.

The agency reported heavy rain across various parts of the country as recently as early Monday. But it hasn't provided an update of damage and deaths resulting from it since Saturday.

The destruction of farmland is of particular concern in a country that struggles to feed itself.

About 4,800 hectares (11,900 acres) of cropland had been washed away by Saturday, KCNA said, and more than 25,700 hectares submerged.

Employees from humanitarian groups that operate inside North Korea describe severe malnourishment on a large scale. A deal earlier this year for the United States to ship food aid to the country fell apart after the regime went ahead with a controversial rocket launch.

The highest numbers of deaths so far from the flooding were reported in areas of South Phyongan Province, northeast of the capital, Pyongyang.

The heavy rains Sunday hit Pyongyang, as well as North and South Phyongan provinces. The capital is the richest and most developed part of the country, used as a showcase by the secretive, nuclear-armed regime. The provinces tend to be poorer and have weaker infrastructure.

By Saturday, a total of 91,809 square meters (51,700 square feet) of road surface had been destroyed by the rain, KCNA reported.

Other areas of East Asia have been hit by severe weather in recent weeks.

A violent rainstorm in Beijing more than a week ago caused the worst flooding in the Chinese capital in decades, killing at least 77 people and provoking criticism from residents about the city's infrastructure and response to the disaster.

Heavy rain elsewhere in China has left dozens more people dead, filled rivers and lakes to dangerous levels and forced the authorities to step up emergency preparations.

Early last week, a powerful storm that hit the southern Chinese coast prompted Hong Kong to raise its strongest typhoon warning for the first time in 13 years, shuttering much of the city.


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