Bodies of North Korean flood victims float to South

The bodies of 11 North Koreans, victims of floods that have killed hundreds in the reclusive state, floated into the South on the Imjin River which crosses the heavily armed border, South Korean officials said Tuesday.

Bodies of North Korean flood victims float to South
Floods in the impoverished North have destroyed thousands of buildings, left more than 300,000 people homeless and wiped out farm land in a country that battles chronic food shortages, international relief agencies said.

The bodies of six males and four females floated down the Imjin and were found last week by troops who watch over the river as it crosses into the South about 60 km (40 miles) north west of Seoul, a Gyeonggi province fire official said.

An official from South Korea's Unification Ministry said separately that a body washed down from North Korea via a different river into Kangwon province.

"We have notified North Korea that we have found 11 bodies and that they will be handed over later on," the official said.

One or two bodies have been carried down the river in floods in recent years, but never as many as 10, the Gyeonggi official said.

The victims included two children about 4 or 5 years old and one teenager, said the official, who asked not to be named.

"There were no clothes on them because they probably had been ripped apart while floating down the river on the rocks and trees," the fire official said.

The U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said last week at least 221 people had been killed and 80 were missing after some of the worst flooding to hit the communist North.

The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies said on Monday it has launched an emergency appeal for flood relief, seeking $5.5 million to help 3.7 million North Koreans affected by the floods.

South Korea, still technically at war with North Korea after their 1950-53 war ended without a formal peace treaty, will start shipping emergency aid to the North later this week.

North Korea's official media has said more than 11 percent of its paddy and maize fields were submerged, buried or swept away as heavy rains saturated the lower half of the country.

The secretive state took the unusual step of showing on its official state TV footage of flooding in the capital, Pyongyang, and other parts of the country.

Heavy rains that pelted the country earlier this month gave way to clear skies this week, bringing some relief.

A famine in the mid-to-late-1990s is estimated to have killed as much as 10 percent of North Korea's 23 million population.

Reuters
Last Mod: 21 Ağustos 2007, 12:46
Add Comment