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N. Korea Faces More Woes in Storm's Wake

September 02, 1997|From Reuters

BEIJING — A typhoon-fueled wave that smashed dikes and flooded fields in North Korea last month has dealt a heavy blow to hungry farmers struggling to avert famine in the isolated nation, Red Cross officials said Monday.

The wave struck North Korea's western coast Aug. 21, destroying an estimated 770,000 tons of corn and leaving 28,000 people homeless, said Erik Petersen of the Red Cross.

"In a country that is already very badly hit, it is a disaster, an absolute disaster," Petersen said in a telephone interview from the North Korean capital, Pyongyang.

"There was apparently one wave. . . . At places we have reports that the wave was more than [26 feet] high," he said, adding that debris had been carried far inland.

A combination of high tides and the effects of Typhoon Winnie, which also lashed Taiwan and eastern China, appeared to have caused the wave. The waters washed over and smashed dikes designed to protect coastal regions.

The wave came as a severe blow to residents already threatened by unrelenting food shortages and poor prospects for this year's harvest, Petersen said.

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