North Korea rejects South Korean help

The two Koreas exchanged messages through the Pyongyang office of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies last week, the South Korean official said, asking not to be identified citing policy.

Floods caused by heavy rains in mid-July killed at least 154 North Koreans and left another 127 or more missing, according to the United Nations. North Korea's official media has said the disaster caused hundreds of casualties as well as cutting off roads, bridges, railroads and communications.

The Seoul-based Good Friends group said in a statement Wednesday about 10,000 people were dead or missing and some 1.5 million people were left homeless from the floods.

The flooding washed away some 245,000 acres (99,000 hectares) of farmland, putting further strains on the North's ability to feed its 23 million people.

The North has relied on outside handouts since the mid-1990s following natural disasters and decades of mismanagement. Famine is believed to have killed up to 2 million people in the country, the AP reports.

Despite the rejection of the South Korean Red Cross offer in the wake of the disaster, the official said the South would eventually provide humanitarian assistance to the North even if there were no request.

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