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S. Korea checking flood damage in N. Korea

The South Korean government is investigating the level of damage from a flood that hit North Korea early this month to decide whether to provide humanitarian assistance, an official here said Wednesday.

The North's Korean Central News Agency said Tuesday that torrential rain and a tsunami in South Hwanghae Province, the North's western area, have left breakwaters partially destroyed as well as houses, roads, railways and bridges inundated and damaged.

The exact extent of the damage is not immediately known, but the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs has said that the flood claimed the lives of 21 North Koreans, leaving eight missing.

The Unification Ministry said that the government is reviewing whether to help North Korea cope with the flood.

"We are checking the damage from the flood in North Korea, based on data by the weather agency and international organizations," Jeong Joon-hee, the ministry's spokesman, told a regular press briefing.

Jeong said that the government would take into account various factors, including the level of the damage and the North's reaction before making its decision.

Until early July, North Korea had grappled with what it called the worst drought in 100 years, sparking concerns about food shortages.

The U.N. has decided to provide emergency relief funds worth $1.75 million to North Korea to help it deal with damage from the recent drought and flood.

Unification Minister Hong Yong-pyo said in June that South and North Korea should jointly cope with natural disasters such as drought in a bid to minimize growing damage stemming from global climate change. (Yonhap)