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Heavy downpours raise fresh concern about N.K. food shortages

Heavy downpours battered much of North Korea earlier this week, causing casualties and flooding homes, farmlands, and roads, the country's media reported Saturday.

The massive flooding raises fresh concern that the North's already serious food shortages may worsen.

The North's Korean Central News Agency said that downpours hit many parts of the country from July 12-15, with North and South Hwanghae provinces and South Hamgyong Province hit hardest.

Hwanghae Province received more than 250 milimeters of rain during the period.

"The downpour left at least 15,000 hectares of farmland inundated…. 10,000 hectares of them completely went under water and a lot of dwelling houses, public buildings and roads were destroyed," the report said.

More than 3,000 hectares of rice paddies and farmlands were "submerged or brought under silt" in Chongdan County of South Hwanghae Province, and other parts of the province also suffered damage, it said.

In North Hwanghae Province, several dikes were destroyed and at least 5,900 hectares of rice paddy and farm fields were inundated or brought under silt, the report said.

The northeastern city of Hamhung was also hit hard, with homes and roads destroyed, hundreds of hectares of farmlands inundated and casualties caused, it said.

KCNA did not provide further specifics on casualties.

It said recovery efforts were under way, but did not elaborate.

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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