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Posted : 2011-02-21 20:13
Updated : 2011-02-21 20:13

Deep freeze hits N. Korea’s west coast


Satellite images obtained by the Korea Center for Atmospheric Environment Research show the (North) Korea Bay affected by coastal freezing. The dense white area in the southern portion of the bay is where ice has frozen over. To the north lies an abnormal amount of ice drifts.
/ Courtesy of KCAER
By Kim Young-jin

The exceptionally cold winter in North Korea has caused massive freezing along the country’s west coast, satellite images show, conditions that could be impeding the transport of goods to the country.

Images obtained by the Korea Center for Atmospheric Environment Research (KCAER) show that a significant portion of the coast of (North) Korea Bay, located in the north part of the West Sea, has frozen over. The bay is also choked by abnormal amounts of drift ice.

The lower portion of the Daedong River, which flows into the bay, has turned into ice almost up to Nampo, the site of the country’s major harbor.

“Transportation of goods to Nampo Harbor has likely been extremely impeded for more than 45 days,” Chung Yong-seung, a KCAER expert, said in an email. “They could go to the Wonsan Port (in the southeast) instead, but it's highly likely that sea transportation has been difficult.”

Further north, a significant portion of the Cheongcheon River appears to have been covered by thick ice.

According to KCAER, there has been less arctic ice worldwide this winter than in the past. But cold arctic air moved south, bringing a cold snap to many parts of the region and the rare freeze in Korea Bay.

The research center predicted that warmer air and water will flow into the bay in about 10 days, causing the ice to float away or melt.

The North’s state media reported last month that temperatures in December and January had been markedly colder than usual, causing hardship for “the people’s lives.”

South Korean humanitarian aid groups that maintain contact with the North said the harsh conditions had severely compounded existing malnutrition and shelter problems.

Pyongyang has reportedly stepped up its calls for aid from the international community in recent weeks amid what the aid groups consider a worsening humanitarian situation.

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