Torrential Rainfall Causes Flooding in North Korea
Torrential rainfall in the western and central part of North Korea has killed up to 24 people and left tens of thousands homeless, the United Nations (UN) reported on Thursday, July 25. Flooding was reported in the provinces of North and South Pyongan, South Hamyong, North Hwanghae and Kangwon. The UN said that the provinces of North and South Pyongyang are "particularly severely affected." It added that about 10,000 hectares of farmland has been inundated and around 1,000 hectares of crops have been destroyed. The floods also washed away stocks of potatoes from the recent harvest.
The state-run Korea Central News Agency (KCNA) reported that the floods destroyed more than 4,500 houses across the country and left nearly 46,000 people homeless. The torrential rains also damaged or destroyed at least 30 schools and 15 hospital buildings across the country and caused extensive damage to roads and irrigation infrastructure. KCNA initially put the death toll at eight, but the UN said that other reports put the number of dead as high as 24. At least fourteen people are believed to be missing.
From July 1 - 24, cumulative precipitation in northwest and central North Korea reached 900 mm (36 inches), with several weather stations reporting totals in excess of 1000 mm (40 inches). This is by far the wettest July of the past 20 years and more than 400 percent above average for the period.
The North Korea Red Cross reported that approximately 80 percent of Anju City, located in South Pyongan province, was flooded when the Chongchon River burst through its embankment last Sunday. The city has received more than 1000 mm (40 inches) of rainfall since July 1.
The following map shows total rainfall from July 1 through July 24, 2013. More than 1000 mm (40 inches) were reported in the mountainous areas of central North Korea and the northwest coastal region. The crops most affected by the rain would be corn in the reproductive stage and single crop rice at the pre-heading stage. The provinces of North and South Pyongan have a combined population of 6.5 million people and account for about 29 percent of North Korea’s corn production and 36 percent of total rice production (UN, 2012 data).
In July, the USDA forecast North Korea's 2013/14 corn and milled rice production at 1.8 mt and 1.74 mt, respectively, unchanged from last year's estimates.
Current USDA area and production estimates for grains and other agricultural commodities are available on IPAD's Agricultural Production page or at PSD Online.