Severe flooding across North Korea
Severe flooding across North Korea has killed 88 people and left tens of thousands homeless, state media reported late on Saturday, threatening to make the poverty-stricken country's already chronic food shortage still worse.
The floods caused by torrential rains and a typhoon this month caused "big human and material losses", North Korea's official KCNA news agency said, stranding nearly 63,000 people, reports Reuters.
Since the mid-1990s, North Korea's farm sector has often been devastated by both floods and drought.
Even before the rain and typhoon this summer, the country's dysfunctional food distribution system, very high inflation and foreign sanctions imposed because of Pyongyang's nuclear and missile programs had contributed to what appears to be severe hunger in the North.
But in April, after a North Korean rocket launch failed, the isolated state abandoned an agreement with the United States, after Washington suspended 240,000 metric tons (264,555 tons) of food aid it had promised to the North as part of the deal.
Talk that North Korea's young leader, Kim Jong-un, plans to reform the broken economy is helping drive rice prices higher, at a time when most families can no longer rely on paychecks from moribund state-run enterprises.
Kim, who is in his late 20s, took over as head of the dynasty last December on the death of his father, whose rule took North Korea deeper into isolation, abject poverty and large-scale political repression.