SEOUL (Reuters) - North Korea said on Saturday that 15 people were missing in the northern city of Hoeryong and thousands were left homeless by flooding caused by heavy rain in recent days.

The official KCNA news agency said flooding of the Tumen river, which forms a border with China, had damaged or destroyed 17,180 houses, and 44,000 people were left homeless in North Hamgyong province.

Widespread deforestation makes North Korea prone to flooding.

(Reporting by Tony Munroe; Editing by Kim Coghill)