Daily NK has obtained a number of exclusive photographs showing the border town of Namyang inundated with water following riverbank collapses along sections of the Tumen River.
The photos, taken on August 31 by a source in Tumen City, China, depict high water levels and flooding affecting apartment buildings near the customs office and train station in Namyang, situated approximately 200 to 300 meters from the Tumen River.
Flooding in North Korea typically occurs near the West Sea, not near Namyang, which is located in Onsong County, North Hamgyong Province. In areas like Sinuiju, downpours during the rainy season coupled with high tide in the West Sea are known to drive up the water levels of the Amnok (Yalu) River and lead to flooding; however, such an occurrence is rare in areas adjacent to the Tumen River, particularly in the hillside city of Namyang.
It is therefore believed that unusually heavy rain, which battered the greater northeast region, contributed to the flooding, and was likely exacerbated by the use of embankments as small plots to grow produce by local residents, whose livelihoods depend on doing so. Weeding and digging around this area in order to plant beans and other crops is thought to have compromised the strength of the river banks, yet no preventative measures were put forth by the authorities.
“The downpours have flooded most homes; some have been completely swept away,” said the source who provided the photos to Daily NK.
Chinese border towns in the same region have also been pummeled by heavy rain. The Chinese government issued an emergency evacuation order in Tumen, Hunchun, and two other cities after roughly 300 mm of heavy rain hit the region over the past three days. China’s Xinhua news agency reported water levels in the Chinese section of the cross-border Tumen River reached record highs, citing Yanbian authorities.
Flooding in the region, specifically around the customs office, is expected to put a temporary dent in China-North Korean bilateral trade.