PYONGYANG, North Korea (AP) — One month after devastating floods caused by a typhoon hit a remote area of North Korea, Red Cross officials said Sunday that more help is needed for thousands of displaced people before harsh winter conditions set in.
The Red Cross estimates that 70,000 people were made homeless in North Hamgyong province by the flooding caused by Typhoon Lionrock at the end of August. Officials estimate that more than 130 people died and another 400 are missing, and that 30,000 homes were destroyed. The flooding also damaged roads and railway lines.
Red Cross video from a four-day trip to North Hamgyong this past week shows people living in temporary shelters amid rubble and mud-caked areas of destruction left in the wake of the flooding. North Korean authorities have launched a major reconstruction effort, but have asked international humanitarian organizations for help.
The Red Cross has sent supplies to construct temporary shelters and provide daily necessities for people who lost everything in the flooding.
Patrick Elliott of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies flew up from Pyongyang to North Hamgyong on Tuesday. He said Sunday that North Korea’s Red Cross has taken the supplies “and have been able to build temporary shelters, in their locations or close to their locations, until they can get a permanent solution.”
But winter is coming soon, meaning snow and plummeting temperatures will make life more difficult for thousands of displaced people still living in very basic conditions.
Even in good weather, the area is very remote, with most normal access only on unpaved roads.
Another Red Cross official, Chris Staines, who was among the first international humanitarian workers to reach the area in early September, said better shelter and more supplies are now needed to deal with the coming of winter.
“Well, the disaster hit in many ways at probably the worst time,” he said Sunday. “It affected crops just a couple of weeks before harvest, and of course with winter closing in, and now less than a month before the first snows are expected at the end of October, it’s an area where the temperatures plunge. … That’s why we need much more permanent solutions in terms of shelter, in terms of the health services and the access to food, and sorting out issues around safe water.”