North Korea on high alert as Typhoon Bavi makes landfall

A North Korean soldier looks toward the south as a South Korean soldier stands guard in the truce village of Panmunjom inside the demilitarized zone (DMZ) separating the two Koreas, South Korea

North Korea was on high alert as Typhoon Bavi made landfall early on Thursday, dumping heavy rains and uprooting trees after skirting the coast of South Korea overnight causing some reported damage.

North Korea’s KCTV state television broke into broadcasts overnight to report on the storm, showing downed trees and building debris on roads, a sign of the heightened concern after heavy rains earlier this month caused flooding and damaged crops.

Leader Kim Jong Un has issued an alert to prevent crop damage and casualties as the country guards against the coronavirus pandemic.

Martyn Williams of 38 North, a website that monitors North Korea, said it was exceptional that North Korean TV routinely interrupted movies to report storm updates.

“I believe the first time ever,” Williams said on Twitter. “It’s a clear sign of fear for loss of life and destruction.”

South Korean Meteorological Administration said the typhoon made landfall about 50 km (31 miles) southwest of the North’s capital Pyongyang on Thursday morning.

KCTV showed a rising Taedong River in Pyongyang, after a pre-recorded video of farmers working on rice paddies.

Heavy rain earlier this month raised concern about food supplies in the isolated country, after inundating hundreds of houses and flooding vast rice-growing lands.

South Korea reported minimal damage from the storm, while international and domestic flights were cancelled.

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