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N. Korean flood victims suffer food shortage: report

All Headlines 11:43 September 12, 2010

SEOUL, Sept. 12 (Yonhap) -- The North Korean city of Sinuiju is in dire need of food and building materials for recovery work after a massive flood swept through the border town late last month, a pro-Pyongyang newspaper reported Sunday.

According to North Korea's official media, over 7,750 houses were flooded and a vast tract of farmland was inundated as heavy rain hit the area along the Amnok (Yalu) River that marks the border with China.

The Chosun Shinbo quoted a North Korean government official at the country's disaster management headquarters as saying that many homeless residents in Sinuiju have been staying in public shelters and the Pyongyang government has moved to provide construction materials and food to flood victims.

"Some of them returned to their home, but others are still in the safe house together," Hong Chong-ho was quoted as saying.

"The government has rolled up its sleeves to provide construction materials, including cement and lumber, to the devastated area and to send relief supplies to the thousand of flood victims on time."

Flooded islands in the river and other riverside areas are being restored, but workers lack earth to carry out restoration works, he said. "A great deal of labor is required to restore the area," said Hong.

According to the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, the flood in Sinuiju killed 14 people and prompted tens of thousands of others to evacuate to a North Korean border area.

North Korea asked South Korea on Tuesday to send rice, cement and construction equipment.

Earlier on Aug. 31, South Korea's Red Cross offered to provide 10 billion won (US$8.6 million) in flood aid but excluded rice, a staple that Seoul has stopped sending to Pyongyang amid strained inter-Korean relations since early 2008.

North Korea is prone to natural disasters because of its lack of investment in disaster control and severe deforestation.

brk@yna.co.kr
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