300 dead, 600 missing from floods in North Korea, as country awaits arrival of typhoon Sanba

Saturday, September 15, 2012
By Paul Martin

September 15, 2012

NORTH KOREA – Just as another typhoon headed toward the Korean peninsula, North Korea on Friday summarized the damage from the late summer storm season – 300 dead and another 600 injured or missing. North Korea’s state news agency said that the worst damage came from the typhoon called Bolaven that swept over the peninsula on Aug. 28 and 29. That storm alone killed 59 people and left about 26,320 people homeless after about 8,000 houses were destroyed by rain and flooding. For a country that is so poor and inefficient that each year’s summer storms leave it a disastrous wreck, North Korea provides strikingly precise data about the damage. Since mid-June, storms and floods damaged or destroyed 87,280 homes and left 298,050 people homeless, its news agency said. It did not say whether they were temporarily homeless from, say, floodwater, or indeed needed entire new homes. Among the other damage, 92 drinking water systems were ravaged and 16,900 trees knocked down. “More than 17,150 square meters of railroad were washed away and over 300 sections of railway were covered by landslides, with scores of tunnels and railway bridges damaged,” it said. Now comes Typhoon Sanba, which is heading north from the Philippines toward Okinawa this weekend and the Korean peninsula by Monday. It is a stronger storm than Bolaven, which was billed as the biggest in a decade but didn’t turn out that way. Stars and Stripes reporter Dave Ornauer on Okinawa warns that he’s never seen a storm as intense as Sanba is shaping up to be. By the time it hits the Korean peninsula, its winds will have died down from Category 4 to Category 2 speeds, he estimates. Even so, both South and North Korea are well-saturated. And North Korea is in no shape for another big storm. -WSJ

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