Railway catastrophe in North Korea

The blast at Ryongchon, about 12 miles from North Korea's border with China, occurred around 1 p.m., after trains loaded with fuel collided at the bustling frontier town's train station, according to Jeong Se Hyun, South Korea's Unification Minister and Seoul's highest authority on North Korean policy. "A large number of people [were] killed or injured," Jeong told reporters in Seoul.

A massive blast in North Korea Thursday involving trains carrying highly combustible material killed at least 54 and injured more than 1,200, leaving an immense wake of destruction that leveled or damaged more than 8,000 households, according to Red Cross and South Korean officials.

The train station, as well as administrative buildings and other structures in the immediate area were reported destroyed, with the powerful impact of the explosion hurling debris for miles. The secretive government of North Korea - which tightly restricts information and the movements of its citizens - remained publicly silent on the disaster, resisting offers by China to treat the massive number of wounded at hospitals in the nearby Chinese city of Dandong. South Korea has also offered immediate humanitarian assistance, but said the Pyongyang Government was insisting on medical teams treating victims inside North Korea, report washingtonpost.com

According to channelnewsasia.com a massive explosion in the North Korean city of Ryongchon may have killed as many as 3,000 people. Reports indicate it was caused by a collision between two fuel trains at the train station. Officials from South Korea are certain it was an accident, and not an attempt to assassinate North Korean leader Kim Jong Il who had passed through the place just hours ago.

Information regarding the train collision was sparse and slow in coming from the secretive North Korean state. In fact, it was South Korea which confirmed that the explosion did take place in the Ryongchon train station, lying close to China's border. Reports said it was so massive that many parts of the remote town were practically flattened. South Korean Acting President Ko Gun has ordered his government to make preparations to assist should the North ask for aid.

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