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Last Updated: Friday, 17 August 2007, 12:27 GMT 13:27 UK
S Korea gives flood aid to North
Flooded factory in North Korea's North Hwanghae province - picture from the Korean News Service
North Korean industry has been hit by the flooding
South Korea is sending $7.5m (3.7m) worth of emergency aid to North Korea after severe floods devastated large parts of the country.

Seoul said the initial relief would include instant noodles, bottled water, powdered milk, blankets and medicine.

South Korean Unification Minister Lee Jae-joung described what had happened in the North as "heartbreaking".

At least 221 people have been killed and 82 people are still missing, the Red Cross in Pyongyang has said.

Some 300,000 people have been left homeless after days of heavy rain brought flooding to large parts of the south of the country.

Power lines are down, roads and bridges have been washed away and as much as one-tenth of the country's vital farmland has been destroyed.

The coal mining industry - a key source of energy for the impoverished country - has also been badly damaged, North Korea's state news agency, KCNA, reported on Friday.

Some 144,000 tonnes of coal had been lost and 300 mineshafts collapsed, the agency said.

Relief efforts

"Considering the large-scale damage and the urgency of the people who have been displaced, we plan to provide the emergency aid as swiftly as possible," Lee Jae-joung said.

Map

"The flood damage in the North is heartbreaking," he added.

He said Seoul hoped to start shipping out emergency supplies to the North early next week, and would be considering how it could contribute to the reconstruction effort.

Pyongyang has been unusually open about its post-flood difficulties, and need for outside help.

International aid agencies are working with the government to identify those most in need, and have been distributing emergency supplies to the hardest-hit areas.

World Food Programme officials were expected to travel out to the affected areas on Friday, hoping to begin diverting supplies from its hunger relief programme to the emergency effort.




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