Democratic People's republic of Korea - Floods
OCHA Situation Report No.1
9 September 1998
United Nations Inter-Agency Mission
1. Following torrential rains on the east coast of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, a United Nations Inter-Agency mission took place, from 27 to 29 August 1998. Representatives of FAO, OCHA, UNDP, UNICEF, WFP, WHO and the International Federation (IFRC), participated in the mission.
Preliminary findings of the mission
2. According to a summary report by the UN Inter-Agency mission, on 23 August 1998, torrential rains started to pour down over different sections of the east coast of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea. The rains caused localized flooding in several eastern provinces and counties, in particular in the lower plains, near to the coast line. Heavy waves have also damaged sea dykes in some places. Rainfall during 23 - 24 August 1998 reportedly varied between 270 and 300 mm.
3. The mission visited flood-affected areas in the counties of Kowan, Jongpyong, Riwon and Sinhung in the South Hamgyong province. The towns of Sinhung and Riwon have been particularly hit by the flood-waters where houses, community buildings and crop areas endured severe damage.
4.The overall number of victims is still being assessed, but it is estimated that the floods have affected several thousands of people. In Jonpyong County alone, some 10,000 inhabitants have reportedly been affected. Ten people have been confirmed dead, 40 are missing and 172 have been injured.
Damage to housing/roads/infrastructure
5. Preliminary figures indicate that approximately 2,300 houses have been partially/totally damaged, of which 1,200 in the Sinhung county alone. The floods have also affected roads and bridges. Nearly three kilometres of the main road leading to the North Hamgyong province has been completely washed away, including many bridges. The railway system in Riwon County was also damaged.
6. The water supply system has been disrupted, and some drinking water sources have been contaminated, increasing the risk of outbreak of water borne diseases and epidemics.
7. The needs in medical supplies must be assured, and the capacity of anti epidemic stations needs to be strengthened, in terms of immediate surveillance, health promotion and preventive activities.
8. The United Nations Inter-Agency mission has estimated that, in the eastern region, approximately 30,000 ha have been damaged, especially on the shoreline. According to previous reports, an additional 13,000 ha of cereals lands were submerged in the southwestern part of the country, in mid August 1998. Cold and adverse weather conditions had already hit some crop areas affected by the floods.
9. The loss of agricultural production owing to the floods will be felt next year and will result in additional import requirements. A joint FAO/WFP crop assessment mission will be visiting the country in October/November, to estimate the harvest and future food needs.
10. The Government has mobilized an intensive campaign to rebuild homes and roads. Repair work (mainly manual) is already under way. Local response capacity is coping with the situation.
11. In country stocks of national and international relief materials and health kits are considered adequate for responding to present needs. The national Red Cross is organizing the distribution of disaster preparedness stocks.
12. The Government of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea has not issued an appeal for international assistance, so far.
13. OCHA Geneva is monitoring the situation, in close consultation with the UN Resident Coordinator in Pyongyang.
14. This Situation Report and further information on ongoing emergencies are also available on the OCHA Internet Website at: http://www.reliefweb.int
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OCHA Disaster Response Branch, direct Tel. +41-22-917 2144 / 3131 / 1997
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