SEOUL, South Korea – The death toll from floods and landslides in North Korea this month has risen to at least 154 people, with 127 others missing, according to the United Nations. More than 31,000 houses were destroyed and about 17,000 families left homeless, the world body said in a report Wednesday.
North Korea's state media said Thursday that leader Kim Jong Il sent a message to China's president, Hu Jintao, about the floods. "I express thanks to you for sending a message of sympathy," Kim said, according to the Korean Central News Agency.
The disaster has damaged about 74,000 acres of arable land, which could lead to a loss of 100,000 tons of food — about 10 percent of the country's annual food shortfall, the U.N. said.
The North Korean government has no plans to appeal for international help, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies has said.
North Korea has relied on foreign donations to feed its people since famines in the 1990s, when natural disasters and outdated farming technology are believed to have killed as many as 2 million people.