Report: Thousands Hurt, Killed in N. Korea Crash

Discussion in 'Asia' started by Lefty Wilbury, Apr 22, 2004.

  1. Lefty Wilbury
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    Lefty Wilbury Active Member

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    http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,117872,00.html

    Report: Thousands Hurt, Killed in N. Korea Crash

    Thursday, April 22, 2004

    SEOUL, South Korea — Up to 3,000 people were killed or injured Thursday in a horrific train collision and explosion at a station near the Chinese border, according to South Korean news media, just hours after North Korean President Kim Jong Il (search) had passed through the same spot.

    Almost immediately following the crash of two trains carrying oil and liquefied petroleum, rumors spread that it might have been a deliberate attempt on Kim’s life.

    But senior Defense Department officials told Fox News there wasn't any information to substantiate such theories and the collision was more likely a tragic accident.

    North Korean authorities placed a total news blackout on information about the crash, according to Chinese news reports, taking such drastic measures as cutting international phone lines in and around the town of Ryongchon (search), where the collision happened.

    North Korea declared a state of emergency after the crash.

    "The area around Ryongchon station has turned into ruins as if it were bombarded," South Korea's Yonhap news agency quoted witnesses as saying. "Debris from the explosion soared high into the sky and drifted to Sinuju," a North Korean town on the border with China, the agency said.

    About nine hours before the blast, Kim had reportedly passed through the station where the collision happened as he returned from a secret trip to China, South Korea's all-news cable channel, YTN, reported. Kim met with the country's leaders and discussed the standoff over the North's nuclear weapons program.

    North Korea's state-run news agency on Thursday confirmed that Kim had made a secretive trip to China on Monday through Wednesday, but carried no comments on the reported explosion.

    A substantial number of Chinese citizens were believed to be among the presumed 3,000 victims, sources in China said.

    Many of the survivors were transferred back to China to receive treatment, which seemed to be how news of the catastrophe spread despite the North Korea-imposed news blackout.

    The Yonhap report of the state-of-emergency declaration gave no details. It said officials of the secretive North Korean government had put in place a "type of state of emergency" around the town of Ryongchon.

    In a sign of the accident's magnitude, the government cut international phone lines to prevent news of the crash from leaking across its borders, Yonhap said, citing no sources.

    James Lilley (search), a former U.S. ambassador to South Korea and to China, said he saw a possibility that anti-Kim forces could have tried to carry out an assassination attempt like this.

    "They realize the system depends so much on him and the system is so bad and punitive that some people could have just taken the situation into their own hands," he told Fox News.

    Kim apparently had a soft spot for Ryongchon, which is about 35 miles from the Chinese border. He often visited the town and its machine-tool factory.

    "If it was an assassination attempt, it was a poor one," John Wolfsthal of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace (search) told Fox News. He said it was doubtful because of the nine-hour difference between when Kim passed through and when the collision and explosion occurred.

    But Wolfsthal added that the brutal dictatorial Kim regime would likely use the crash to its advantage.

    "The leadership may use this as an opportunity to clamp down on whatever dissent or instability there might be," he told Fox. "We will be watching closely to see how Kim Jong Il responds."

    The number killed or injured could reach 3,000, YTN said, citing unidentified sources on the Chinese side of the border.

    The Yonhap news agency, quoting witnesses in the Chinese city of Dandong on the border with the North, said the explosion occurred about 1 p.m. at Ryongchon. It said Kim passed through nine hours earlier, returning to Pyongyang.

    Yang Jong-hwa (search), a spokeswoman of South Korea's Unification Ministry, said her organization could not immediately confirm the reports. The ministry is in charge of relations with North Korea.

    The Defense Ministry likewise was not commenting.

    "We are aware of the news reports, but we will not make any comments at this stage," said a spokesman, speaking on customary condition of anonymity.

    Lilley, the former U.S. ambassador, said an accident of this magnitude would make it impossible for the North Koreans to keep quiet.

    "I'm sure this kind of thing happens quite frequently in North Korea," Lilley said. "Their infrastructure is deteriorating fast."

    YTN reported that the causalities included Chinese living in the North Korean border region, and that Chinese in Dandong (search) were desperate to learn about their relatives.

    Some of the injured were evacuated to hospitals in Dandong, it said.

    Chinese and North Korean traders frequently cross the border at Dandong, a bustling industrial city on Yalu River.

    China, which also confirmed Kim's visit, is North Korea's last major ally, and the two countries' ruling communist parties boast of close ties. But while China's experiments with capitalism have transformed it into an economic dynamo, North Korea suffers chronic food shortages and depends on its larger neighbor for aid.

    Kim met with President Hu Jintao and other Chinese leaders and agreed to "push ahead" with a peaceful resolution to the standoff over its nuclear weapons programs, the North's official KCNA news agency and central television network reported earlier Thursday.

    The broadcast added that Kim said his government "will continue to be patient and flexible and actively participate in the process of six-nation talks and contribute to making progress at the talks."

    The comments were likely to be encouraging to the United States and other countries, who want China to use its leverage as North Korea's leading supplier of food and energy aid to get the country to disarm.

    Washington wants Pyongyang to dismantle its nuclear facilities, but North Korea has said it doesn't trust the United States not to invade and wants a security guarantee.

    The last round of six-nation talks — involving China, the two Koreas, the United States, Japan and Russia — ended in February in Beijing without a settlement.

    The accident resembled a disaster in Iran on Feb. 18, when runaway train cars carrying fuel and industrial chemicals derailed in the town Neyshabur, setting off explosions that destroyed five villages. At least 200 people were killed.
     
  2. Zhukov
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    Zhukov VIP Member

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    More casualties of communist ineptitude no doubt that will likely increase because of a deliberate block of information and transportation to and from the site.

    Those poor people.

    Who wants to bet we haven't already offered aid?
     
  3. 5stringJeff
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    5stringJeff Senior Member

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    It's really too bad though... if we offer aid, the NK Commies reap the benefits, yet there are millions of Koreans starving under the Kim regime. Kind of a Catch-22.

    However, I wish someone would hurry up and assassinate Kim already. Freakin' weirdo commie bastard...
     
  4. Zhukov
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    Zhukov VIP Member

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    They won't accept it. Besides, I was speaking of lending rescue workers and vehicles, not giving them money.
     
  5. krisy
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    krisy Senior Member

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    I think if they don't accept help in any form,that might work to our advantage because it will show the world this guy really needs to go. Of course, Saddam did too and people are whining about that. I hope that NK can give these poor people the resources they need,and the medical care,but I fear they can't.
     
  6. Lefty Wilbury
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    Lefty Wilbury Active Member

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    http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/4806450/

    N. Korea asks for help following deadly blast
    Thousands of homes hit; dozens reported killed so far

    Updated: 1:19 p.m. ET April 23, 2004

    North Korea's secretive government on Friday asked for international help, telling diplomats and aid workers they'd be able to visit the site of a massive explosion that ripped through thousands of homes, killing an undetermined number of people and injuring hundreds.

    The death toll from the blast at a railyard in Ryongchon was expected to grow significantly, the Red Cross reported Friday. North Korea's Foreign Ministry attributed the huge blast to explosives going off by accident.

    Some 1,850 apartments and houses were leveled and 6,350 were damaged, said John Sparrow, a Red Cross spokesman in Beijing who has been in contact with North Korean Red Cross officials.

    The death toll so far, he said, was at least 54 dead and 1,249 people injured.

    “When you look at the number of buildings destroyed, you have to be afraid of what you’re going to find,” Sparrow said. “We are anticipating that the casualty figures will increase.”

    North Korea sought assistance from the United Nations, stating in its request that 50 bodies had been recovered so far.

    Britain's ambassador to North Korea said government officials' initial estimates were several hundred dead and several thousand injured. Many might still be trapped in collapsed buildings, Ambassador David Slinn and other European envoys were told Friday ahead of a planned trip to the site Saturday.

    Power lines blamed
    North Korean officials said the explosion occurred when train cars carrying dynamite touched power lines, according to Anne O’Mahony, regional director of the Irish aid agency Concern.

    “It says 150 people died, including some school children,” O’Mahony told the Irish radio station RTE by phone from Pyongyang, North Korea’s capital.

    “What they’ve said is that two carriages of a train carrying dynamite — they were trying to disconnect the carriages and link them up to another train,” she said. “They got caught in the overhead electric wiring, the dynamite exploded, and that was the cause of the explosion.”

    International aid agencies have been invited to visit the scene on Saturday, O’Mahony said.

    At the Pentagon, NBC's Jim Miklaszewski quoted U.S. intelligence officials as saying that two blasts occurred, each leaving a huge crater.

    Tents, blankets for 4,000 families
    Red Cross workers were distributing tents and blankets to 4,000 families, while the international group was putting together hospital kits containing antibiotics, bandages and anesthetics.

    Initial reports by South Korean media said 3,000 people were killed or hurt in Ryongchon, a bustling city about 90 miles north of Pyongyang.

    The explosion leveled the train station, a school and apartments within a 500-yard radius, South Korea’s Yonhap news agency said, quoting Chinese witnesses. It said there were about 500 passengers and railway officials in the station at the time of the blast.

    South Korea said China has been urging North Korea to send injured people across the border to hospitals in China, but that North Korea has instead been asking China to dispatch relief workers to the scene. The city is 12 miles from the border with China.

    Explosives reportedly for canal project
    A North Korean foreign ministry official told diplomats and reporters Friday that the explosives were intended for use in an irrigation canal, Russia’s Itar-Tass news agency reported from Pyongyang. Initial reports indicated two trains carrying petroleum products had collided, setting off the explosions.

    On Thursday, North Korea's secretive communist government declared an emergency in the area while cutting off international phone lines, Yonhap reported.

    North Korea's leader, Kim Jong Il, had quietly passed by rail through the station as he returned from China some nine hours earlier.

    U.S. intelligence officials discounted speculation that the explosions might have been an assassination attempt, telling NBC News that Kim's train was on a different track and some distance from the railroad yard.

    Ryongchon has a reported population of 130,000 -- although it's not clear whether the number refers to the town itself or the overall country -- and is known for its chemical and metalwork plants.

    The British Broadcasting Corporation showed on its Web site what it claimed to be a satellite photo taken 18 hours after the explosions. The photo showed huge clouds of black smoke.

    “The area around Ryongchon station has turned into ruins as if it were bombarded,” the Yonhap news agency quoted witnesses as saying. “Debris from the explosion soared high into the sky.”

    YTN, South Korea’s all-news cable channel, reported that Chinese in Dandong were desperately seeking information about relatives who may have been in the area. Chinese and North Korean traders frequently cross the border.

    Offers of help

    South Korea's government said it was prepared to help if asked. The country's Red Cross also said it was prepared to offer food and clothes.

    Officials in Dandong, China, said they too were prepared to provide medical and rescue assistance if requested.

    And Dandong's three biggest hospitals said they were preparing for a possible influx of victims. "We're ready to offer our close neighbor our best medical help anytime," an official at Dandong Chinese Hospital said.

    North Korea is one of the world's most isolated countries and rarely allows visits by outside journalists. News events within its borders are difficult to confirm independently.

    The communist country's infrastructure is dilapidated and accident-prone. Its passenger cars are usually packed with people, and defectors say trains are seldom punctual and frequently break down.

    Sometimes, trains are stranded for hours at stations until their electricity supply is restored enabling them to continue, some defectors say.

    The trunk line on which Thursday's accident reportedly occurred, the main rail link between China and North Korea, was first laid during the Japanese occupation more than 60 years ago.

    The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.
     
  7. blazers4x4
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    Well, I guess here's my take...
    This is a long post, I hope you bear with it. I realize that it’s a shitty thing to do; however, I think the US should not provide any more aid to NK. Here are my main points as to why.

    1. GWB's (and I agree) axis of evil includes NK
    2. NK is a communist country wallowing in it's own shit.
    3. If the roles were reversed, would NK help us (or anyone)?
    4. When 9/11 happened do you think KJI was saddened?
    5. If we help, will KJI remember that or will he stab us in the back first chance he gets?
    6. Many economists believe that (prior to the tragedy) NK's economy is going to collapse sooner than later. This event will hasten this eminent collapse.
    7. NK needs monetary help? Sell us your nukes and other weapons. Nukes for food program like Iraq; only the UN wouldn’t be involved so corruption wouldn't be a concern.
    8. NK government wants to be isolationist, until they need money that is. If we continue to bail them out the people won't revolt. Once they realize that the failed government of NK can't handle something like this it will put a foul taste in their mouths, perhaps enough to cause some serious dissention within the population.
    9. Nearly $300 million in food aid alone from US, South Korea, Japan, and EU in 2001 plus much additional aid from the UN and non-governmental organizations. Yet KJI wants to spend obscene amounts of NK's GDP on his military. 33.9% of GDP (FY02) to be exact.
    10. It's time to end NK. It's time to allow Korea to become one country again. It happened in Germany with positive results, now let's have it happen in Korea.

    North Korea, one of the world's most centrally planned and isolated economies, faces desperate economic conditions. Industrial capital stock is nearly beyond repair as a result of years of underinvestment and spare parts shortages. Industrial and power outputs have declined in parallel. The nation has suffered its tenth year of food shortages because of a lack of arable land; collective farming; weather-related problems, including major drought in 2000; and chronic shortages of fertilizer and fuel. Massive international food aid deliveries have allowed the regime to escape mass starvation since 1995-96, but the population remains the victim of prolonged malnutrition and deteriorating living conditions. Large-scale military spending eats up resources needed for investment and civilian consumption. Recently, the regime has placed emphasis on earning hard currency, developing information technology, addressing power shortages, and attracting foreign aid, but in no way at the expense of relinquishing central control over key national assets or undergoing widespread market-oriented reforms. In 2003, heightened political tensions with key donor countries and general donor fatigue have held down the flow of desperately needed food aid and have threatened fuel aid as well.
     
  8. insein
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    insein Senior Member

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    Yes but its the people who are suffering. Just like in Iraq. If we don't help them, who will?
     
  9. blazers4x4
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    I know that it is the people who are suffering, but giving more aid to the country isn't going to help, it never has. We're not talking about an economic downturn, we're talking about an economic collapse. The only way NK is surviving is because of foreign aid. Providing more aid is not going to help, reforming Korea into one united country again will. Giving more aid to NK is like trying to fight a house fire with a garden hose. It's pretty much pointless, the people of NK are not going to be helped by aid. With that I will defer back to some of my earlier points...

    7. NK needs monetary help? Sell us your nukes and other weapons. Nukes for food program like Iraq; only the UN wouldn’t be involved so corruption wouldn't be a concern.

    8. NK government wants to be isolationist, until they need money that is. If we continue to bail them out the people won't revolt. Once they realize that the failed government of NK can't handle something like this it will put a foul taste in their mouths, perhaps enough to cause some serious dissention within the population.

    9. Nearly $300 million in food aid alone from US, South Korea, Japan, and EU in 2001 plus much additional aid from the UN and non-governmental organizations. Yet KJI wants to spend obscene amounts of NK's GDP on his military. 33.9% of GDP (FY02) to be exact.

    10. It's time to end NK. It's time to allow Korea to become one country again. It happened in Germany with positive results, now let's have it happen in Korea.
     
  10. nycflasher
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    nycflasher Active Member

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    If only President Kim Jong Il were aboard.
    But that's a terrible thing to say:rolleyes:

    Extremely said, though. As many casualties as on 9/11.
     

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