North Korea appears to have released water from a dam near its border with South Korea, officials said Tuesday, prompting holidaymakers in the neighboring country to evacuate due to rising waters on the Imjin River.
Government data showed that the water level at a bridge over the river in the southern border county of Yuncheon exceeded one meter (about 3.3 feet) on Monday afternoon, requiring the evacuation of visitors on the riverbank.
“It appears that North Korea has released water from the Hwanggang Dam,” said an official at South Korea’s Unification Ministry, which handles inter-Korean affairs.
Yuncheon County said it has sent alert messages to nearby residents warning them to move to a safer area.
It was not immediately clear how many people had to leave after the suspected water leak.
“The water level is decreasing now that it has hovered above 1.6 meters (5.2 feet),” said a Yuncheon county official.
North Korea is stepping up efforts to prevent flood damage caused by recent torrential rains.
South Korea has repeatedly urged North Korea to give notice before releasing water from the dam, as the river flows through Yeoncheon, but Pyongyang has remained unresponsive.
In 2019, North Korea released water from the dam without warning, causing flash floods downstream that killed six South Koreans. After that, officials from the two countries met to discuss the issue, with the North Korean delegate expressing his sorrow for the deaths and his condolences to the affected families.