Monday, August 13, 2007

North Korea admits severe flood damage

North Korea has reported widespread damage to homes, railways and roads following heavy rains that battered the nation last week, in a rare admission of problems within the reclusive country.

“A large acreage of land under cultivation” has been washed away or buried, with roads, railways, houses and public buildings destroyed,” the official Korean Central News Agency said.

The agency gave no figures on damage or casualties. Last year monsoon rains swept through much of the impoverished nation, killing hundreds of people.

Experts say decades of reckless deforestation have stripped North Korea of tree cover that provides natural protection from catastrophic flooding.

Meanwhile, North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il has called for efforts to boost fertiliser production, state media reported, amid concerns of increasing starvation in the impoverished country.

In a rare admission of a “problem” with food supplies, the reclusive leader issued a directive during a trip to a fertiliser complex in the northeastern port of Hungnam, the Korean Central News Agency said late Saturday.

“In order to solve the problem of food (production), a key point in the issue of clothing, food and housing, it is necessary to actively develop agriculture and increase the supply of fertilizers for successful farming,” Kim was quoted as saying.

[The Peninsula, Qatar]

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