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Heavy rains batter N. Korea

Heavy rains have battered North Korea, according to state media and an international relief agency Thursday, as more rain is expected in the coming days amid fears of severe damage and casualties in the impoverished communist nation.

The most affected areas are the southern and eastern parts of North Korea. Nearly 100 millimeters of rain poured down in the southern province of Haeju in just three hours early Thursday, according to Pyongyang's Korean Central Broadcasting Station, a radio broadcaster.

The broadcaster provided no information on damage or casualties.

But the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) has reported that about 6,000 people were forced to evacuate their homes in the eastern city of Hamhung after heavy rains on Wednesday.

South Korea's state weather agency forecast up to 150 mm of additional rain through Friday.

The downpours raise fresh concern that the North's already serious food shortages may worsen.

North Korea has relied on foreign aid to feed its 24 million population since natural disasters and mismanagement devastated its economy in the mid-1990s. Pyongyang has stepped up appeals for food aid this year.

(Yonhap News)

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