ANJU, North Korea -- More heavy rain pounded North Korea yesterday, submerging buildings, cutting off power, flooding rice paddies and forcing people and their livestock to climb onto rooftops for safety.
The rain follows downpours earlier this month that killed nearly 90 people and left more than 60,000 homeless, officials said. The floods come on the heels of a severe drought, fueling renewed food worries about a country that already struggles to feed its people.
Two-thirds of North Korea's 24 million people face chronic food shortages, a UN report said last month, while asking donors for $198 million in humanitarian aid for the country. South Korean analyst Kwon Tae-jin said the flooding, so soon after the dry spell, is likely to worsen the North's food problems.
On Sunday and yesterday, rain hit the capital, Pyongyang, and other regions, with western coastal areas reporting heavy damage.
In Anju city in South Phyongan province, 1,000 houses and buildings were reported destroyed and 5,680 acres of farmland were completely covered.
The Chongchon River in Anju city flooded yesterday, cutting communication lines and submerging rice paddies and other fields, said Kim Kwang Dok, vice chairman of the Anju City People's Committee, who told The Associated Press that the disaster was the worst in the city's history. Boats made their way through the muddy water that covered the city's streets Monday. Many residents sat on their homes' roofs and walls, watching the rising water. A young man wearing only underwear stood on a building's roof with two pigs; four women sat on another rooftop with two dogs.
Helicopters flew to various areas to rescue flood victims, state media reported. Casualties from the latest rains were not immediately reported.
If it rains again before the water drains, the damage will be greater, Kim said. Earlier this year, North Korea mobilized soldiers and workers to pour water on fields, irrigate farms and repair wells as what officials described as the worst dry spell in a century gripped parts of North and South Korea. -- AP