North Korea asks for help after devastating flooding


North Korea has issued a rare appeal for help after flooding devastated the nation.

At least 133 people have died and more than 100,000 others have been displaced, with buildings being destroyed and people left homeless.

Nearly 400 people are still missing.

The flooding hit along the Tumen River bordering China two weeks ago after torrential rain from Typhoon Lionrock.

Musan was the worst-hit region, with more than 76,000 people forced to leave their homes, according to information released by the United Nations' Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

Rescuers are struggling to reach some areas and the disaster is severe enough North Korea has issued a call for international help.

International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC)'s Chris Staines says it's a major disaster.

"In some villages that we visited on the outskirts of Hoeryong City, there was barely a building left unscathed," he says.

"People were salvaging whatever possessions they could from piles of debris that used to be their homes."

Mr Staines says with winter on the horizon, there's a lot of work to be done.

"Thousands of homes will need to be rebuilt in a short time-frame as winter is quickly approaching. By the end of October, overnight temperatures can plummet to sub-zero."

But it's not clear which countries will be keen to help - North Korea's plea comes only days after it launched its fifth and most powerful nuclear test yet, in defiance of the UN Security Council which has ordered the nation to stop its nuclear testing.

"This latest nuclear test is highly provocative and deeply concerning, especially as it comes on the back of a series of ballistic missile launches by North Korea recently," says New Zealand's Foreign Minister Murray McCully.