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Thousands evacuated in N Korea as heavy rain destroys houses

August 6, 2021 GMT
In this image taken from undated North Korean state broadcaster video, vehicles pass through flooded streets after heavy rains across  South Hamgyong Province, North Korea. (KRT via APTV)
In this image taken from undated North Korean state broadcaster video, vehicles pass through flooded streets after heavy rains across South Hamgyong Province, North Korea. (KRT via APTV)
In this image taken from undated North Korean state broadcaster video, vehicles pass through flooded streets after heavy rains across South Hamgyong Province, North Korea. (KRT via APTV)

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — Heavy rains in northeastern North Korea have destroyed or flooded 1,170 houses and forced 5,000 residents to evacuate to safety, North Korea’s state TV reported.

Thursday’s TV broadcast said this week’s downpour in South Hamgyong Province inundated or washed away hundreds of hectares (acres) of farmlands and destroyed many bridges. Footage showed houses submerged up to their red-brick roofs, a severed bridge over muddy water and a swollen river.

The broadcast didn’t mention any casualties. It said the North’s eastern coastal areas will continue to receive heavy rains in the next few days.

Summer rains in North Korea often cause serious damage to its agricultural and other sectors due to poor drainage, deforestation and dilapidated infrastructure in the impoverished country. The inclement weather comes amid growing concerns about North Korea’s food security, though outside monitoring groups haven’t detected any signs of mass starvation or social unrest.

Leader Kim Jong Un said in June that his country’s food situation was becoming “tense.” He earlier admitted his country had faced the “worse-ever” crisis due to the COVID-19 pandemic, U.S.-led sanctions and last year’s massive typhoon and flooding.