Typhoon causes little damage in North Korea: Kim

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Typhoon Bavi toppled trees in the streets of North Korea’s capital though state media reported Friday that leader Kim Jong Un said the country was “fortunate” and had suffered only limited damage.

 

The storm — at one point categorised as a severe typhoon — made its way up the peninsula this week, raising fears of havoc as it approached the North.

Trees were uprooted in Pyongyang, including along Mirae Scientists’ Street, one of Kim’s showpiece developments.

State media images also showed a building in Sariwon, to the south, missing some panels.

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However the official KCNA news agency made no mention of any fatalities and Kim gave an upbeat assessment of the storm’s aftermath as he inspected a farming region southwest of Pyongyang.

The damage was “smaller than expected”, KCNA quoted Kim as saying, adding he had “worried a lot” and the outcome was “fortunate”.

Kim was pictured in Friday’s Rodong Sinmun newspaper holding a corn cob as he discussed the situation with officials.

As the typhoon struck on Wednesday night and into Thursday, state television carried near-live coverage of its trajectory and impact, sometimes interrupting regular programmes with weather reports and warnings, and airing footage within hours of it being filmed.

Such broadcasting is extremely unusual in the North and continued overnight in what observers said was a possibly unprecedented move. Broadcasts normally end before midnight.

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Natural disasters tend to have a greater impact in the North than in the South due to its creaking infrastructure.

The North is also vulnerable to flooding as many mountains and hills have long been deforested, allowing water to flow downhill unchecked.

International aid workers in the country are currently unable to travel outside Pyongyang due to restrictions authorities have imposed to guard against the coronavirus outbreak.

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The North has yet to confirm a single case of the disease.

Three of the four officials accompanying Kim wore facemasks, while he did not, the Rodong Sinmun pictures showed.

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