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Monday, August 9, 1999 Published at 06:58 GMT 07:58 UK

World: Asia-Pacific

Typhoon destroys North Korean harvest

The floods could have a lasting impact on the harvest

North Korea has warned that its grain harvest will drop sharply this year due to torrential rains and a typhoon which battered the peninsula.

The internationally isolated Communist state has requested food aid to the areas damaged by Typhoon Olga which struck the Korean peninsula and east Asia on 3 August.

[ image: Five years of famine has claimed the lives of hundreds of thousands]
Five years of famine has claimed the lives of hundreds of thousands
Aid agencies say more than 40 people have been killed and about 40,000 made homeless in North Korea.

The floods are likely to worsen the plight of the country, which has been experiencing successive years of famine in which hundreds of thousands if not millions of people have died, according to aid agencies.

The BBC's Hyun-Sung Khang in South Korea says that the hardest hit areas were in the south, including South Hwanghae province, which is described as the nation's breadbasket.

The Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) added that flood waters had damaged thousands of houses and public buildings, claiming lives and leaving people homeless.

Long-lasting impact

The country has already requested food aid to the areas damaged by the typhoon and the UN's World Food Programme said it had conducted inspections to assess flood damage to the worst-hit areas but the extent of the damage was not yet known.

Another agency, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies has warned that flooding could have a lasting impact on the country.

The head of the organisation's delegation to North Korea said that if rice paddies were flooded for more than 48 hours they were likely to suffer permanent damage.

North Korea has been experiencing more than five years of famine brought about by successive years of flooding which have exacerbated an already inefficient food production system.

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