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North Korea reports death toll of 48 from Typhoon Bolaven

By Paula Hancocks, CNN
September 4, 2012 -- Updated 1129 GMT (1929 HKT)
  • The storm destroyed tens of thousands of hectares of crops, North Korea says
  • The reclusive regime already struggles to feed its people
  • The U.N. organized emergency food aid for the country last month after flooding
  • Typhoon Bolaven also killed at least 15 people in South Korea

Seoul, South Korea (CNN) -- North Korea has said that Typhoon Bolaven, a powerful tropical cyclone that pounded the Korean Peninsula last week, killed 48 people in the country and left more than 21,000 homeless.

The storm also injured more than 50 people and destroyed tens of thousands of hectares of crops, according to a report published Monday evening by the state-run Korean Central News Agency (KCNA).

The secretive, militaristic North Korean regime has repeatedly asked for food aid from international aid organizations as it struggles to feed its own people after suffering extensive famines during the 1990s.

Employees from humanitarian groups that operate inside North Korea have described severe malnourishment on a large scale. A deal earlier this year for the United States to ship food aid to the country fell apart after the authoritarian regime in Pyongyang went ahead with a controversial rocket launch.

Riding out typhoon in Okinawa

North Korea already experienced widespread devastation in late July from heavy rains and flooding. KCNA said the extreme weather resulted in the deaths of at least 169 people and left more than 200,000 homeless.

The United Nations World Food Program called it an emergency and organized for emergency food aid to be delivered.

North Korea then took the unusual step of releasing footage of the devastated areas, showing houses submerged and farmlands destroyed.

The damage caused by Bolaven last week has now added to the woes of the North Korean population.

The storm also resulted in at least 15 deaths and widespread disruption in South Korea as it swept up the side of the Korean Peninsula.

CNN's K.J. Kwon contributed to this report.

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