ANJU: North Korean children waited in line with buckets in hand as Red Cross officials handed out clean drinking water in the city of Anju less than a week after floods swept through buildings and homes, raising concerns that an outbreak of disease could put the death toll well past 170.
The heavy monsoon rains that pounded Anju in South Phyongan province, about 65 kilometers (40 miles) north of Pyongyang, early last week triggered the worst flooding in the city's history, local officials told The Associated Press. Residents clambered onto rooftops to escape the rising waters and resorted to traveling by boat. Since late June, 169 people have been killed, 400 were left missing and some 212,200 people were homeless due to flooding, state media reported Saturday. Vast swaths of farmland remain submerged, possibly threatening the harvest in a country already suffering from food shortages, the United Nations said.
Anju was inundated with 16 inches of rain on July 29 and 30, state media said. It was among the three hardest-hit areas in North Korea, with 45 percent of the city's population affected, the UN resident coordinator's office in Pyongyang said Thursday after making field visits to flood-stricken regions. Some 36,000 Anju families do not have clean water and nearly two-thirds of the region's farmland was flooded, the UN said.