The usually secretive North Korean government made a public appeal for relief to help those affected by severe floods in the northeast region of the country. The Korean Central News Agency (KNCA) on Sunday said that the country’s northeast has been affected by the ‘heaviest downpour’ since 1945, with tens of thousands of buildings destroyed and scores left homeless. The news agency urged soldiers and citizens to join a drive to help those affected.
According to a United Nations’ statement, which cites the Pyongyang government figures, death toll from the floods has risen to 133 with another 395 missing. Furthermore, some 107,000 people have been forced to flee their homes in the area along the Tumen River.
“The main thrust of an ongoing nationwide 200-day mass mobilisation campaign aimed at boosting the economy would be redirected to helping flood victims,” the KNCA said, quoting the central committee.
In a statement, UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said, “More than 35,500 houses have been hit by the floods, with 69 per cent of them completely destroyed. More than 8,700 public buildings have also been damaged.”
“About 16,000 hectares of farmland had been inundated and at least 140,000 people urgently need help,” it added. OCHA said that a group of UN agencies, international NGOs, international Red Cross and North Korea’s Red Cross had visited parts of the flood-stricken region last week to assess needs.
North Korea’s announcement of the floods comes days after its fifth nuclear missile test, which drew unanimous condemnation from the international community.