Go to contents

Flood Disrupts Transportation, Electricity and Communications in Pyongyang

Flood Disrupts Transportation, Electricity and Communications in Pyongyang

Posted August. 20, 2007 03:02,   


After North Korea put off the second South-North summit due to flooding damage, the flood’s severity is gaining attention.

Exact figures have not been released yet, but the announcements of the North Korean authorities and international aid organizations indicate that the damage is severe.

The amount of heavy rain between August 7 and 11 in North Korea was at a record high. In an interview with North Korea`s Central News Agency, the president of the central weather research institute Ryu Gil Ryeol said, “The recent average amount of rain in the upper and middle streams of Daedong River was the highest in the history of North Korean weather observation.”

Flood left great damages in most of North Korea’s regions, excluding some parts of Yangangdo, Hambuk. In Bukchang, Pyeongnam, it rained 672mm over six days, which is equivalent to half of the year’s annual average. Rain poured heavily in other regions, too, including Deokcheon, Pyeongnam (621mm), Yangdeok (570mm), Pyeong-gang, Gangwon (662mm), Seoheung, Hwangbuk (476mm), and Pyongyang (460mm).

In particular regions in northern Pyeongnam, such as Yangdeok and Shinyang, are known to be in desperate condition as the flooding came before last year’s flood repairs had been completed.

Damage so far-

According to documents the North Korean authorities reported to International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), 303 people are dead or lost and 300,000 people were displaced. In addition, 88,400 houses were destroyed and 11 percent of North Korea’s farmland was damaged. This is expected to lead to a more than 400,000-ton reduction in output.

Compared to last year, the number of flooded houses was three times higher, and the area of flooded farmland five times greater. But the number of victims is lower this year; the number of casualties announced officially by the North Korean government last year was 549 dead, 295 lost, and 3,043 injured. This might be a hint that the investigation is not finished yet, considering that communications and transportation have been cut in most of the regions of North Korea.

Damage was severe in Pyongyang as well. On August 16, the North Korea’s Central News Agency reported, “In Pyongyang, 23,000m² of road and 6,400 houses were destroyed. In regions around Botong-gang, Mangyeongdae, Jung-gu, and Pyeongcheon, the depth of water rose to 2 meters, paralyzing transportation and cutting off electricity supply and communication networks.”

Real damage begins now-

Floods will have great influence on the daily lives of North Koreans. The most urgent issues are the recovery of railways and roads.

Since most North Koreans carry out economic activities by relying on trade, they could import food from China as a last resort. But when transportation is paralyzed, the economic activities of people also come to a halt, which leads to the increase in the number of deaths by starvation. The price of rice in North Korea is known to have doubled in the last two weeks.

It took three months to recover when a flood last year cut the Pyeongra (Pyeongyang-Rijin) railway that links the two cities of Yangdeok and Shinyang in Pyeongnam. It was because most of the recovery process had to depend on manpower. The Pyeongra railway is the only one that links the east and the west, and the north and the south. When this is destroyed, national functions come to a stop in an actual sense. The Pyeongra railway is known to be more damaged this year than last year.

Electricity supply is also expected to be seriously disrupted as many mines and power plants have been affected by the flood. Moreover, the delay in recovery and disease control tasks is likely to give rise to damage caused by waterborne epidemics, blight, and harmful insects in crops.

North Korea is very vulnerable to flooding. A lack of fuel led people to cut trees in the mountains, leaving mountains bare, which in turn caused frequent landslides. Recovery is also slow due to the lack of machinery and equipment.