Democratic People's Republic of Korea - Typhoon Prapiroon Situation Report No. 1

Report
from UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
Published on 14 Sep 2000
Ref. OCHA/GVA - 2000/0171
OCHA Situation Report No. 1
Democratic People's Republic of Korea - Typhoon Prapiroon
(Tropical Storm 12)
14 September 2000

BACKGROUND INFORMATION

1. Typhoon Prapiroon, locally known as Tropical Storm 12, battered the north-east coast of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea on the night of 31 August 2000. The worst storm in the area for thirty years raged for 27 hours, bringing heavy rain and high winds and seriously damaging houses and infrastructure in the region. Unconfirmed reports relate that forty two people died when rivers in South Hamgyong province burst their banks. The storm coincided with a tidal wave which swept over the Korean coastline from the Sea of Japan.

2. Several other natural disasters have recently occurred in different parts of DPR Korea, heavily damaging infrastructure and drastically reducing harvests, depriving people of their livelihoods and further depleting food supplies in a country already stricken with serious food shortages. The north-east of the country is the most vulnerable where food supplies are concerned. Tropical Storm "12" thus exacerbated a mounting disaster situation.

3. Weather forecasters predict a strong possibility that Typhoon Saomai will travel north-west from Japan later today or in the early hours of tomorrow morning and affect the North Korean provinces devastated by Tropical Storm 12.

4. This situation report is based mainly on information collated by the United Nations Humanitarian Coordinator in the DPRK, WFP and IFRC.

SITUATION

5. While the entire eastern coast of the country was affected by Tropical Storm 12, the most serious damage appears to have occurred in North and South Hamgyong provinces in the north-east corner of the country, particularly from Hamhung northwards.

6. South Hamgyong: 13 kilometre stretch of road north of the provincial capital, Hamhung, was washed away by the tidal wave and several bridges in the area were destroyed. Thunderous downpours of hail and rain are reported to have triggered a major landslide in the Tanchon mining area, causing considerable damage to the mines. The OCHA office in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea reports that the reservoir which provides drinking water to the inhabitants of Hamhung has been damaged.

7. North Hamgyong: Chongjin, the capital of North Hamgyong province, has spent days under a metre of water as a result of the tidal wave. Chongjin is still out of telephone reach. Many of the bridges that link the city with other areas were completely or partially destroyed by the storm and travel to and from the region is out of the question. The level of the Tuman River rose so suddenly in the Onsong area of North Hamgyong that more than 400 surrounding houses were flooded and thousands of hectares of paddy fields and other land were buried in silt.

8. Kangwon: The 150 metre-long bridge linking Wonsan city with Thongchon county was completely washed away by the tidal wave. Over 200 to 300 mm of rain were recorded in Phyonggang, Kimhwa, Kosong, Thongchon, Anbyon and other counties in Kangwon province, leaving hundreds of houses and scores of public buildings submerged or destroyed, and severing power and communications networks.

9. Ryanggang: More than a thousand families lost their homes to Typhoon Prapiroon in this province. The railway station at Hyesan and factories in Hyesan and Samsu counties were submerged by floodwaters the night of the storm, as were offices handling city administration and land management. Hyesan had twice been flooded earlier the same month. The main road to Hyesan was still impassable two days ago.

10. North Pyongan, North Hwanghae and Kaesong City: Torrential rain damaged tens of thousands of hectares of paddy and other agricultural land in Pakchon, Chonma, Thaechon, Uiju and Kusong counties in the province of North Pyongan. In North Hwanghae province crops were seriously damaged by torrential rain and hail and winds. Hundreds of homes were destroyed and many hectares of agricultural land were submerged in floodwaters for three days in the area surrounding Kaesong city.

11. So far it appears that greater damage has been done to infrastructure than to agriculture. Large areas of maize have been flattened by strong winds, according to preliminary assessments.

NATIONAL RESPONSE

12. The Government of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea has so far made no formal request for international assistance in the wake of the typhoon. However, the WFP food-for-work programme mentioned below, and implemented by local authorities and citizens, was instigated at their request.

13. The Government Flood Damage Rehabilitation Committee will shortly release a detailed assessment of the damage that has been wrought.

14. By 2 September 2000 several thousands of men and women had been mobilised by local authorities to commence emergency repairs.

15. After fielding an assessment mission to the provinces on the north-east coast, the national Red Cross Society has taken blankets, kitchen sets and other relief items to disaster victims. Provincial and county Red Cross chapters and volunteers have had to overcome the obstacle of limited material resources and considerable logistical difficulties. The Disaster Preparedness and Response Department continues to work towards a full picture of the situation in the field.

INTERNATIONAL RESPONSE

16. Reports on storm damage caused by Typhoon Prapiroon have been slow to emerge owing to the inaccessibility of the affected counties. Smashed bridges and roads and severed telephone lines have impeded the communications and transport networks which would otherwise have allowed speedy assessment and disaster response activities.

17. WFP has provided approximately 400 metric tons of food aid through food-for-work projects. The work consists of assisting provincial authorities to carry out emergency repairs. The joint WFP/FAO field mission which has been planned for late September will make a thorough assessment of agricultural damage caused by the typhoon.

18. IFRC has fielded an assessment mission to the affected area and disseminated the news of prevailing conditions in the disaster area and the needs they have so far encountered there. The organization has already distributed initial relief items to the affected population, and its assessment of the full extent of the damage continues. So far, findings have exposed the need for blankets, kitchen utensils and food.

19. For coordination purposes, donors are requested to inform OCHA Geneva, as indicated below, of bilateral relief missions/pledges/contributions and their corresponding values by item.

20. Any future updates on contributions to this disaster may be found by clicking on Financial Tracking at the top of the page for this disaster on the OCHA Internet website (http://www.reliefweb.int). Donors are requested to verify this table and inform OCHA Geneva of corrections/additions/values. Donors are encouraged to notify OCHA Geneva of their contributions to this disaster using the OCHA Standardized Contributions Recording Format, available electronically in the above-mentioned Financial Tracking website.

21. This situation report, together with further information on ongoing emergencies, is also available on the OCHA Internet website at http://www.reliefweb.int

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Fax: +41-22-917 00 23
E-mail: ochagva@un.org

In case of emergency only: Tel. +41-22-917 20 10

Desk Officers: Ms. S. Metzner-Strack / Mr. R. Mueller / Mr. S. Matsuka direct Tel. +41-22-917 21 44 / 31 31 / 40 34

Press contact: Mr. Donato Kiniger-Passigli, direct Tel. +41-22-917 26 53 - Ms. Phyllis Lee, OCHA N.Y. direct Tel. +1 212 963 48 32

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