Train Overturns in North Korea, Killing at Least 40 Who Worked on Flood Recovery

2016-12-02
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Flood damage near the Tumen River in North Korea is shown on Sept. 18, 2016.
Flood damage near the Tumen River in North Korea is shown on Sept. 18, 2016.
UNICEF DPRK

A railway accident in North Korea blamed on poor track maintenance has killed at least 40 and injured hundreds more, North Korean sources say.

The Nov. 21 accident near Tanchon city in South Hamgyong province occurred as members of a construction labor force were returning from work in flood-damaged areas along the Tumen River bordering China, one source told RFA’s Korean Service.

“The train was loaded with workers and with vehicles, machinery, and tools, so the loss of life was severe,” the source in neighboring North Hamgyong province said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Nearly 300 workers were either killed or injured when the train overturned in the accident, which has gone unreported in North Korea’s state-controlled media, another source said.

“Around 40 were killed on the spot, while the injured were sent to various hospitals in Tanchon and are receiving treatment,” the source said, speaking to RFA from Yanggang province.

“Many say there will be more deaths because of the large number of seriously injured people,” the source added.

The accident is believed to have been caused by poor maintenance of the railway, and was not the fault of the engineer, who suffered only minor injuries, the source said.

Five excavating machines and three freight cars with 20-ton loading capacity were also destroyed in the accident, “causing considerable problems” for a tideland reclamation project planned by the owners, the Western Sea Tideland Construction Office, RFA’s sources said.

The wrecked train’s diesel locomotive was built for winter use and had been pulled into service because of electric power shortages on the rail lines, RFA’s source in Yanggang said.

“Several of the locomotives assigned for work in the areas hit by floods have now been damaged, so it will be difficult to restore normal operations on the railways for a while,” he said.

Reported by Sung-hui Moon for RFA’s Korean Service. Translated by Soo Min Jo. Written in English by Richard Finney.


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