North Korea rains, flooding led to 88 dead
Widespread flooding in North Korea continues as the torrential rain worsened on Monday, taking the death toll to 88.
The floods follow a period of drought and are certain to lift food prices which have been rising sharply. According to defectors contacted by Reuters in neighboring South Korea, rice prices have already risen beyond the reach of ordinary households.
“A heavy downpour on the 29th July, coupled with heavy thunderstorms, have worsened the flood situation for DPRK (North Korea),” the United Nations North Korea office reported on its website.
North Korea’s official KCNA news agency said 16 inches of rain had fallen in the 24 hours to Monday morning.
This widespread flooding from July 18 to the 25th has claimed the lives of 88 people, leaving tens of thousands homeless and destroying agricultural areas.
“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,” he said.
The country has become increasingly prone to flooding because of widespread deforestation.
Defectors said the rice price increase has been worsened by hoarding by middlemen hoping to cash in on economic reforms which the government of new leader Kim jong-un is reported to be planning.