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43,000 Red Cross volunteers head to N. Korea to help with virus and floods

Tony Nguyen Tony Nguyen


August 11, 2020 | 07:24

The Red Cross has trained 43,000 North Korean volunteers to help communities, including the locked-down city of Kaesong, fight the novel coronavirus and provide flood assistance, an official with the relief organization said on Monday (August 10).

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An employee disinfects a treadmill at the Ryugyong Health Complex in Pyongyang, North Korea. Photo: AP

43,000 North Korean volunteers have been trained by The Red Cross in order to help communities, including the locked-down city of Kaesong, fight the novel coronavirus and provide flood assistance, reported Reuters.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un declared an emergency last month and imposed a lockdown on Kaesong, near the inter-Korean border, after a man who defected to the South in 2017 returned to the city showing coronavirus symptoms.

Heavy rain and flooding in recent days have also sparked concern about crop damage and food supplies in the isolated country.

The volunteers were helping North Koreans in all nine provinces to avoid the virus and protect themselves from floods and landslides, International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) spokesman Antony Balmain said.

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North Korea last month declared an emergency and imposed a lockdown on Kaesong near the inter-Korean border. Photo: AP

In Kaesong, which was grappling with both the lockdown and floods, IFRC volunteers were providing 2,100 families most at risk with relief items including tarpaulins, kitchen sets, quilts, hygiene kits and water containers.

Kim has also sent special aid packages to Kaesong, and state media reported on Monday that grain supplies from Pyongyang had arrived in another flood-ravaged county he visited last week.

North Korea has not confirmed any coronavirus cases but has enforced strict quarantine measures. South Korea has said there is no evidence the returning defector was infected.

The IFRC last month provided North Korea with kits designed to run up to 10,000 coronavirus tests, alongside infrared thermometers, surgical masks, gowns and protective gears.

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A road near the Seomjin River flooded with water, after the collapse of a bank of the river due to downpours in Namwon, North Jeolla Province, South Korea and that have spread to North Korea. Photo: EPA-EFE/YONHAP

At least 30 people have died, and 12 remain missing after 46 days of heavy rains in South Korea, with the country's longest monsoon in seven years causing more flooding, landslides and evacuations on Sunday (August 09).

Nearly 6,000 people had also been evacuated as of Sunday as rains battered the southern part of the Korean Peninsula.

More than 5,900 people from 11 provinces and cities left their homes, and some 4,600 of them remain at temporary shelters following warnings of disasters.

An estimated 9,300 hectares (22,980 acres) of farmland were swamped or buried, while 9,500 cases of damage to public and private facilities were reported.

(Source: Yonhap)

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In South Korea, at least 30 people have died after 49 days of monsoon rains caused flooding, landslides and evacuations. Photo: Yonhap/EPA
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Tony Nguyen

Reuters, Yonhap