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Hamish Macdonald is an NK News contributor and has previously worked at The Korea Herald and for the Australia Centre for Independent Journalism in Sydney.
As many as 86 North Koreans have been killed and over 65,000 displaced by recent heavy rains and flooding in part caused by Tropical Storm Soulik, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reported on Monday.
While the worst of the storm did not travel directly over North Korea, heavy rains were expected with multiple humanitarian bodies issuing warnings days prior to the storm reaching the peninsula.
The North Korean Red Cross were also reported to have activated early warning systems in anticipation for the then Typhoon.
“On 24 August, Tropical Storm Soulik caused extremely heavy rainfall, resulting in heavy flooding in Kangwon and South Hamgyong provinces,” the UN Weekly Humanitarian Snapshot said.
“Munchon city was worst affected with 10 reported deaths, 60 persons missing and ongoing search and rescue activities.”
Both Kangwon and South Hamgyong provinces lie on the east coast of the country.
It added that over 58,000 people were displaced from both Munchon and Kowon with damage to critical infrastructure also being reported.
“The water supply system of Munchon city was destroyed leaving tens of thousands of people without access to safe drinking water. Agricultural land has been damaged or washed away. The government is providing assistance in terms of search and rescue, temporary shelter, and health care,” it said.
In addition to damage reportedly caused by Soulik on the east coast, the OCHA report adds that – as of September 2 – heavy flooding was also reported in North and South Hwanghae provinces, which lie on the west coast of the peninsula.
“In both provinces there are 76 reported deaths, and 75 people missing. Over 9,000 people are displaced and nearly 1,800 residential buildings destroyed or damaged,” it reads.
An assessment is being planned for Tuesday, which the OCHA says will inform the international humanitarian response to address the issues faced on the ground.
The source of the initial, the OCHA confirmed with NK News by email on Tuesday, was issued by the DPRK Government – which is not uncommon in the aftermath of such events.
North Korea has long been susceptible to shocks caused by weather events and in 2016 suffered significant damage caused by Typhoon Lionrock. Subsequent floods are estimated to have killed over 500 people, displaced another 100,000 and damaged 35,000 homes.
The North Korean Government embarked on a significant reconstruction project at the time that sought to provide housing for those displaced prior to the onset of winter.
Update: The UNOCHA confirmation that stats were issued by DPRK Government was added into the article after publication and at 16:18 GMT on Tuesday, September 4.