In a secretive society where news rarely gets out, intelligence sources are reporting that hundreds of people died and thousands were injured in a
huge explosion in a North Korean train station in Pyongyang. North Korean leader Kim Jong-il had passed through the same train station just a few
hours before. Fox News quoting South Korean news sources are reporting that the trains were carrying oil and liquified petroleum, but conflicting
stories have emerged since. North Korea, breaking a 2-day silence on the matter, first blamed the blast on "dynamite" ignited carelessly by a power
line before saying there was ammonium nitrate involved.
It is being reported that North Korea has cut international phone lines to prevent information regarding the explosion to get out.
The death toll is expected to rise as rescue workers dig through the rubble of the demolished buildings & houses.
Millions of dollars in aid has been pledged from several countries and organizations such as the Red Cross and the UN.
6,350 homes were damaged in the resulting explosion; 1,850 homes and a dozen public buildings and were completely destroyed.
South Korea's Yonhap news agency, quoting sources 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. Ryongchon is about 12 miles from the Chinese border.
"The station was destroyed as if hit by a bombardment and debris flew high into the sky," Yonhap said, quoting the unidentified Chinese sources.
North Korea appears to have cut international telephone lines to the area to prevent information about the explosion getting out, Yonhap added. The
North appears to have declared a type of emergency in the area.
"We have not yet received official information on the accident. We are trying to confirm the report," a Unification Ministry spokesman said in
Seoul. Other officials at various government agencies also had no information.
Residents in Pyongyang said by telephone there was nothing unusual in the capital. North Korean television was broadcasting military songs and music
-- standard evening fare.
Overseas officials have confirmed a massive blast in North Korea feared to have left thousands dead and wounded.
But authorities in the secretive state have not acknowledged any disaster, nearly a day after two fuel trains were reported to have collided.
South Korean media reports talk of up to 3,000 people killed or injured in Ryongchon, 50km from China's border.
Details remain scarce and there are conflicting reports of survivors going to China, or Pyongyang asking for help.
Confirmation of the blast came from Washington and Seoul.
"There clearly was a large explosion there of some sort," a US official said.
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[Edited on 26-4-2004 by Banshee]