Wed, Aug 15, 2007 - Page 1 News List

South plans aid for N Korea

AFP , SEOUL

South Korea said yesterday it was ready to send aid to North Korea after its impoverished neighbor reported hundreds dead or missing in floods and tens of thousands of homes destroyed.

Deputy Unification Minister Seo Sung-woo said this year's flooding in the North seemed to have caused "more serious" human losses and property damage than last year.

"There has been no request yet from North Korea but we are now consulting with other government bodies on sending aid," he said.

Low-lying areas in the center of the capital Pyongyang have been inundated and communications networks and subways badly damaged, Seo said, but added it would not affect an inter-Korean summit there on Aug. 28 to Aug. 30.

Footage from state television showed flooded streets in Pyongyang, with soldiers and civilians seen struggling to repair broken bridges and roads.

The North's official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said earlier that downpours since Aug. 7 had caused "huge human and material damage."

As of Sunday they had left hundreds of people dead or missing and destroyed more than 30,000 houses for over 63,300 families, it said.

According to KCNA, at least 800 public buildings, more than 540 bridges and sections of railway have been destroyed, with tens of thousands of hectares of farmland "inundated, buried under silt and washed away."

The southern provinces of Kangwon and North Hwanghae, and South Hamgyong in the east, were among the worst hit.

"The material damage so far is estimated to be very big. This unceasing heavy rain destroyed the nation's major railways, roads and bridges, suspended power supply and cut off the communications network," KCNA said.

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