WORLD / Asia-Pacific

North Korea rejects flood relief from South
Updated: 2006-08-02 10:28

SEOUL, South Korea - North Korea's Red Cross has rejected an offer from its South Korean counterpart for aid to flood victims, a South Korean Red Cross official said Wednesday.

North Korea "expressed thanks for Seoul's offer" but said "it will handle the recovery efforts from recent floods by itself," a senior North Korean Red Cross official said, according to the South Korean Red Cross.

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.

South Korean Red Cross chief Han Wan-sang had expressed its intention to provide relief aid to the impoverished communist neighbor once the North makes a request.

Despite the rejection, the Red Cross official said South Korea would eventually provide humanitarian assistance to the North even if there were no request.

Separately, JTS Korea, a Seoul-based private relief agency, said Tuesday it would ship emergency goods to the North including 200 tons of flour, 38,000 packs of instant noodles and 15,000 pieces of clothing, socks and candles, as well as medicines and blankets.

It will be the first South Korean shipment of relief goods to North Korea since the floods, said agency spokeswoman Hun Hee-ryun. The first shipment is scheduled for to depart Thursday.

South Korea, a key provider of rice and fertilizer aid to the North, recently suspended that aid to protest Pyongyang's refusal to discuss its missile launches in early July that drew international condemnation and raised regional tension.