Floods kill 60 people; 44,000 left homeless in North Korea

Tumen river suffers the biggest flood ever recorded due to a rainstorm, according to Pyongyang.

At least 60 people were killed and 44,000 left homeless in North Korea due to massive floods following heavy rainfall, the United Nations said on Tuesday.

Pyongyang said the Tumen river that partially marks the border with China and Russia suffered the biggest flood ever recorded due to rainstorm which began four days ago.

The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said the nearby areas, including Musan and Hoeryong, were affected badly leaving 5 percent of the population homeless.

"Communication with and access to affected areas remain a challenge... immediate needs have been identified as emergency shelter, food, medication, water and sanitary items," it told AFP.

It said that more than 9,000 buildings were destroyed and 10,000 ha of farmland was flooded. The statement also added that relief efforts involving the UN and the North were under way.

North Korea is quite vulnerable to natural disasters, especially floods as the surrounding mountains and hills have long been deforested for fuel, which allows the rainwater to flow downhill unchecked.

In 2012, as many as 169 people were killed by a massive rainstorm that also destroyed thousands of houses.