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Over 1,500 N. Koreans killed by natural disasters in decade: RFA

Some 1,500 North Koreans were killed in devastating natural disasters that hit North Korea over the past decade, a US broadcaster reported Tuesday.

The North has suffered a total of 10 massive natural disasters since 2007, which left 1,533 people dead, Radio Free Asia (RFA) said, citing data from the disaster research institute of the University of Leuven in Belgium, Radio Free Asia, monitored here, said.

Floods took up the lion's share, being seven of the 10 disasters, with those in 2007 and this year leaving 610 and 538 people dead, respectively, the broadcaster said

Forest destruction to expand farmland, in particular, is believed to be a main cause for the heavy flood damage.

Typhoons also took the lives of 59 people in 2012 and 60 this year, according to the broadcaster.

"There can be massive defections from North Korea if a serious food crisis takes place again like the one in the 1990s because of a flood or a typhoon," a researcher at the Seoul-based Asan Institute for Policy Studies said.  (Yonhap)