North Korea Floods Kill 88, Displace Tens of Thousands

Torrential rains on Monday worsened widespread flooding in North Korea that has killed at least 88 people and displaced 63,000.

The United Nations North Korea office reported on Monday that "a heavy downpour on July 29, coupled with heavy thunderstorms, have worsened the flood situation."

Flash flooding in counties principally in the provinces of North and South Hamyong, Kangwon, and South Pyongang was caused by continuous rainfall and cyclone Khannun in mid-July, it said, adding that 18,856 households had been affected, making 62,889 people homeless.

The state-run KCNA news agency reported 16 inches of rain in the 24 hours until Monday morning. About 74,700 acres of arable land had been damaged by 10 days of flooding, reports said.

The government had to launch a rescue operation to evacuate affected people, the U.N. said.

"The flooding will result in more hikes in rice prices until the autumn harvest and which were already seen because of the massive drought," Kwon Tae-jin, a senior researcher at Korea Rural Economic Institute, told Reuters. "It is simply making things worse."

North Korea is particularly prone to flooding because of widespread deforestation. The government has requested resident U.N. agencies and international agencies, including the Red Cross movement and EUPS Units or resident NGOs, to assist those affected by the flooding.

The authoritarian communist nation relies heavily on foreign aid due to a lack of food distribution system, price rise and international sanctions over its weapons programs. The United Nations had appealed for $198 million in humanitarian aid for the country last month, as the majority of the country's population continues to suffer from "chronic food insecurity, high malnutrition rates and deep-rooted economic problems."