July 19, 2010 11:52
North Korea on Sunday afternoon told the South that if heavy rains continue it would have to release water from a dam on the upper Imjin River after 8 p.m. that day, according to the Unification Ministry. The North Korean media reported North Hwanghae and Gangwon provinces have seen heavy rainfall, reaching 143 mm near Kaesong on Saturday.
On Sept. 6 last year, North Korea without warning discharged a large amount of water from an Imjin River dam, resulting in flash floods south of the border that killed six people. In an inter-Korean meeting later, the North agreed to a request from the South for fair warning in the future and expressed condolences over the deaths. The rare expression of regret was apparently part of a charm offensive since Pyongyang was trying through secret channels to arrange an inter-Korean summit.
A South Korean official said the North may have issued the latest "seemingly considerate" warning as a way out of the stalemate in inter-Korean relations since the sinking of the Navy corvette Cheonan. Since the end of May, all communication channels between the agencies in charge of inter-Korean relations have been cut off, and North Korea used the only surviving military communication line to deliver the message.
Korea Water Resources Corp. said there will be no problem as a new flood control reservoir in Gunnam has been operating since July 1. "The reservoir can hold the amount of water North Korea says it is going to release, which is 500 to 1,000 tons per second, without opening the floodgates, so no flood damage is expected in downstream areas" such as Yeoncheon and Paju, Gyeonggi Province, a K-Water spokesman said.
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