Landslides in North Korea’s Phyongan Province killed at least ten people, North Korean media reported on Monday.Further casualties included 55 people injured and another four missing. Property and infrastructure damage was also reported.According to the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA), heavy monsoon rains from July 22 to 24 caused the landslides in the Tokryong area of Uiju County.
Rainfall reportedly reached over 200 mm in Uiju, Kusong, Suphung, Chonma, Tongchang, Pakchon of North Phyongan Province and Pukchang and Kaechon of South Phyongan Province.According to the Korean language version of the article, 246 houses were completely or partially destroyed while 760 meters of local rail lines were damaged. Roads and bridges also suffered from the deluge.North Korean media did not specify exactly which part of Tokryong area was hit with the landslide.But a South Korean government’s search engine, called “North Korean Human Geography,” showed the only similarly named area in Uiju County is the “Tokryong Workers’ District” (Tokryong-rodongja-jigu) located about 28 kilometers northeast of Sinuiju city.According to satellite imagery of the region dated April 2014 showed the area is surrounded by mountains, with little vegetation covering them.The images indicate many of the mountain slopes are used for agriculture, which could weaken the ground and make landslides more likely.“The ground needs trees and forest to hold the surface soil from being washed away during heavy rains,” Kim Young-hoon, a senior researcher from the Korea Rural Economic Institute told NK News.“The Korean Peninsula is a monsoon region, and without tree roots holding the soil, especially on slopes, the chances of landslide are relatively high during the season.”In August last year North Korea’s Rason region was hit by massive flooding, which resulted in 40 casualties, damage to 5,240 houses, 99 public service buildings and 51 railway sections including a destroyed bridge and 125 hectares of inundated farmland, KCNA reported.As the part of efforts to prevent further damage from floods, the North Korean government launched a series of nation-wide tree planting campaigns since around March. The process is officially called as the “battle for forest restoration,” with the state-run media outlet Rodong Sinmun in May reporting of around two million trees planted in North Hamgyong Province.