North Korea reports serious damage from floods that destroyed homes and roads, hurt economy

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — Flooding last month caused serious damage in North Korea, destroying homes, farms, roads and buildings and hurting the economy, state media said Thursday.

About 36,700 acres (14,850 hectares) of farmland was submerged and 5,500 homes and 350 public buildings and facilities were destroyed or flooded, the official Korean Central News Agency said.

"Not a small number of industrial establishments were damaged or flooded, inflicting an adverse effect on the economic growth and the people's living," the report said.

Landslides caused by the torrential rains wrecked bridges and roads and caused a power equipment failure that disrupted railroad traffic in some parts of the country, KCNA said.

"Active efforts have been made to heal the flood damage in the affected areas," the report said without elaboration.

KCNA reported casualties in Jagang and South Hamgyong provinces but did not say how many, nor if people were injured or had died.

The news agency had previously reported heavy rains fell in the country in mid- to late July, but those earlier reports did not mention flooding or damage. State media in the impoverished, reclusive nation often report news days or weeks after an event takes place.

There was no indication the North would need outside help to deal with the flooding.

In 2007, the regime did seek outside help to cope with its most severe flooding in decades. About 600 people were dead or missing and 100,000 homeless after those floods, which destroyed more than 11 percent of the country's crops.

North Korea is prone to floods and landslides due to poor drainage systems and massive deforestation after a famine in the 1990s that is believed to have killed as many as 2 million people.

The impoverished nation has relied on foreign aid to feed its 24 million people since its economy was devastated by natural disasters and mismanagement in the 1990s.