Source AP ©

North Korea suffers food supply losses

The United Nations reported Friday that the food supply situation in North Korea is worse due to losses of rice and maize crops caused by severe flooding in recent days.

The Rome-based Food and Agriculture Organization said preliminary estimates indicate that some 11 percent of the area planted with rice and maize has been submerged or washed away by floods.

Some 87 percent of the country's annual production of cereals is harvested from October to November and the rains arrived at a critical development stage, the agency said. Cereals are the main staple in North Korea.

Rough estimates also indicate that up to 200,000-300,000 tonnes of cereals may have been lost to floods, it said.

The final harvest will depend on weather conditions in the next few months.

Record downpours and flooding in North Korea have left more than 300 people dead or missing in recent days, according to a toll compiled by the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.

The International Red Cross has delivered emergency supplies including kitchen sets, blankets and water purification tablets to about 80 percent of the 16,000 hardest-hit families, and expects to complete distribution over the weekend.

The U.N.'s World Food Program was also expected to send aid officials on a tour Friday of affected areas to coordinate international assistance, hoping to start emergency food aid using supplies already in the country.

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