What is the extent of the flood damage? (Updated again)

From the New York Times:

Floods Claim Huge Toll in North Korea, Group Says

SEOUL, South Korea- A South Korean aid group said Wednesday that 54,700 people were dead or missing after huge floods in North Korea last month and that as many as 2.5 million people had been left homeless.

The figure is by far the highest toll reported from floods that hit North Korea in mid-July.

The private aid agency Good Friends, based in Seoul, said it had “many sources” inside North Korea but did not say where it had obtained the information. The toll could not be independently confirmed because North Korea tightly controls the news media and information.

The aid group’s previous reports on activities inside North Korea have been confirmed by South Korean government sources, although some of its figures have been disputed.

North Korea’s official news media have reported that “hundreds” were killed by the floods, without giving specific numbers.

The Choson Sinbo, a newspaper published in Japan by a pro-North Korean association linked to the government, said this month that the floods had killed at least 549 people and that 295 more were missing.

Officials with South Korea’s Red Cross, the South Korean Unification Ministry, North Korea’s economic cooperation office in Beijing and other agencies could not immediately be reached for comment on Wednesday.

Representatives of Good Friends refused to elaborate on their report, saying they feared their sources would face reprisals.

The group said the floods had destroyed more than 230 bridges and inundated hundreds of thousands of acres of farmland, further straining North Korea’s ability to feed its population. North Korea has relied on foreign food donations since the mid-1990’s, when famine caused by natural disasters and decades of mismanagement is believed to have killed up to two million people.

“Food prices are skyrocketing as food distribution has become nearly impossible” as a result of the floods, the aid group said.

The group also contended that North Korea, to curb possible unrest, prevented those left homeless by the floods from traveling.

A South Korean citizens’ group said last week that North Korea had requested help from South Korea to cope with the devastation from the floods.

From Yonhap:

Flood damage in N. Korea seems lesser than previously estimated:official

Recent floods in impoverished North Korea resulted in a loss of large amounts of food, but the loss may not be as great as previously estimated by domestic and international relief agencies, a government official said Thursday.

The claim comes amid efforts by South Korea’s pro-unification and other civic organizations to put together large amounts of emergency relief aid for flood victims in the North.

International relief agencies working with the communist state, such as the World Food Program and the International Federation of the Red Cross and Crescent Societies, had previously estimated that some 30,000 hectares of farmland was either submerged or destroyed due to last month’s heavy rains in the North, leading to the loss of some 100,000 tons of food.

The official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the government, too, depends on the reports, or estimates, by the international agencies to estimate damage in the North, but said a thorough analysis of the reports showed a significantly smaller loss of food than estimated.

“(The government) believes damage to 20,000 to 30,000 hectares of arable land in the North would lead to the loss of some 32,000 tons of crops,” the official said.

The official said the discrepancy comes because the international organizations assumed the worst.

“I believe the WFP’s estimate was based on an assumption that no crops would be produced from any of the affected farmland,” the official said.

“A close analysis and consultation with experts showed the North’s loss of food would come to about 30 percent of the WFP estimate,” the official added.

The new estimate, or claim, by the government is expected to affect the South’s expected decision on the size and composition of its assistance for the flood-hit North as the government continues to suspend its regular aid for the communist state.

Seoul suspended its humanitarian aid for the communist North, which includes rice and fertilizer, shortly after Pyongyang test-fired seven mid- and long-range missiles into the East Sea on July 5.

Officials at the Unification Ministry say the government is unlikely to remove or loosen its suspension of rice and fertilizer shipments to the North until the latter returns to international negotiations over its nuclear weapons program and announces resumption of its self-imposed moratorium on missile tests.

Unification Minister Lee Jong-seok, Seoul’s highest official on North Korea, held a meeting with the head of the country’s National Red Cross on Thursday to discuss a possible inclusion of food, mainly rice, in a Red Cross aid package for the North.

Ministry officials said the provision of rice, if made, would only be a one-time assistance to help relieve the suffering of flood victims and will not lead to a resumption of regular aid shipments.  

From the BBC:

North Korea flooding ‘kills 549′

At least 549 people died and another 295 are still missing as a result of floods which struck North Korea last month, a pro-Pyongyang daily said.

ays of heavy rain caused flooding which North Korean media have already confirmed led to “hundreds” of deaths.

But the figures, from the Japan-based daily, are the most specific released so far on the extent of the disaster.

Last month, the UN food agency estimated that about 60,000 people had been left homeless by the flooding.

The Choson Shinbo newspaper is based in Japan and is run by a pro-North Korea association.

Over 7,000 homes were destroyed or damaged, the daily said, and almost 40,000 acres (16,000 ha) of farmland had been washed away.

“Recovery efforts are proceeding at rapid speed as relief supplies are being sent to the afflicted areas,” the daily said on its web site.


In South Korea, opposition Grand National Party leader Kang Jae-sup urged that a fact-finding mission be sent to the North to determine the full extent of the damage there, Yonhap news agency reported.

One activists’ group has suggested that the number of dead or missing is as high as 10,000, but has not said where it obtained the information.

North Korea is secretive about releasing details of accidents or natural disasters, making any confirmation of the extent of the flooding difficult.

But Pyongyang has cancelled a mass gymnastics display, called Arirang, which is a key source of income for the nation, to focus, it says, on recovering from the floods.

North Korea has refused offers from international agencies to launch appeals on its behalf, but an official said last week that Pyongyang would accept aid from the South if it came with no strings attached.

South Korea has suspended food aid to the North because of concerns over deadlocked talks on its nuclear programme and Pyongyang’s recent missile tests.

From the Associated Press

Up to 10,000 casualties in North Korea flooding: aid group

Up to 10,000 North Koreans are believed dead or missing in what Pyongyang’s official media is describing as the worst flooding in a century, a respected South Korean humanitarian group said.

“About 4,000 people are now listed as missing, and we expect the final toll of dead and missing to reach 10,000,” said the independent aid group Good Friends.

North Korea’s official media has so far admitted that hundreds of people were dead or missing after the country was battered by heavy rainfall for nearly two weeks from July 10.

Seoul-based Good Friends said the media was now terming the flooding as the worst to hit the impoverished country in a century.


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