North Korea asks for help to overcome Tumer River flood

2016-09-20 15:10:41

Ulaanbaatar /MONTSAME/ North Korea’s Foreign Ministry held a briefing for diplomats from nine Asian countries (including Mongolia and Vietnam) who are based in Pyongyang and asked them to help the North rebuild after the flood, on September 14, reports

Thirteen UN-affiliated humanitarian organizations operating in North Korea have published a jointly drafted report about the situation on the ground and are appealing to the international community for emergency aid.

South Korean groups dedicated to providing humanitarian aid to North Korea have also launched a campaign to raise money to provide relief to the victims of the flooding and have asked for permission to contact North Korea to get a better picture of what is happening there. Thus far, the South Korean government has made no response, citing a lack of an official request for aid from North Korea. It remains to be seen whether these developments will cause Seoul to change its stance.

The flooding - which the North Korean government has described as “the worst catastrophe according to meteorological observation since liberation” - was caused by torrential rain in the northern part of North Hamgyong Province from Aug. 29 to Aug. 31. The rains were produced by the convergence of Typhoon Lionrock, this year‘s tenth typhoon in the Pacific Ocean, and a low pressure front in the region.

A four-hour downpour on the night of Aug. 30 and the early morning of Aug. 31 raised the level of the Tumen River to 6 to 12 meters higher than normal, and the resulting floods have caused extensive damage.

According to the joint report about damage from the flooding in North Hamgyong Province that was released by the UN humanitarian aid organizations on Sep. 16, the damage has been concentrated in the city of Hoeryong and six surrounding areas, including Onsong, Musan, and Yonsa counties. There are more than 667,000 people living in these administrative districts.

The report was prepared by a team of 22 people who surveyed the affected areas from Sep. 6 to Sep. 9. The team was made up of North Korean government officials and a delegation from 13 UN humanitarian organizations with permanent operations in North Korea, including the World Food Programme (WFP) and the World Health Organization (WHO).

According to the report, more than 500 casualties have already been confirmed, including 138 dead and 398 missing. More than 37,000 houses have been flooded, including more than 15,740 that have been completely destroyed, affecting more than 118,000 people.