SKorean aid group claims pipeline blast in NKorea kills 110 people

A South Korean aid group claimed Tuesday that about 110 people were killed this month when oil leaking from a dilapidated pipeline exploded in a rural area of the communist country.

The Seoul-based organization, Good Friends, said in a newsletter, that the blast occurred on June 9 in North Pyongan province, which borders on China.

The group did not provide a source for the report. Some of its previous reports about accidents and natural disasters in North Korea, however, have proven reliable.

The independent group, which provides aid to the North, said that the explosion occurred while people gathered to scoop up oil leaking from a crack in the pipeline, which runs through rice paddies. The victims were engulfed in flames, Good Friends said.

The fire was not extinguished until the next day, the group said.

South Korea's Unification Ministry, in charge relations with North Korea, said it was trying to verify the report.