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North Korean trains wreck
adopted from VOA
4/23/2004



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VOA sources say, "a rail accident in North Korea has devastated an area near the border with China. South Korean media say thousands of people may have been injured or killed. It is highly unusual for news of such a disaster to reach the rest of the world.

News reports in South Korea say two cargo trains carrying fuel collided Thursday at Ryongchon, about 50 kilometers from the border with China.

About nine hours earlier, a train carrying the North Korean leader, Kim Jong Il, had safely passed through the area, as he was returning from a visit to Beijing.

James Lilley, a former U.S. ambassador to both China and South Korea, and a fellow with the American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research, describes the region around the accident site, which is near the border crossing at Dandong.

"I just know that it's heavily industrialized, that they have the rail that goes across the bridge there at Dandong into North Korea, very heavily traveled," he said.

The accident is near the Sinuiju, an industrialized zone that North Korea has opened up to foreign companies.

There was no immediate confirmation from North Korean officials about the collision. South Korea's Yonhap news agency reports Pyongyang has declared a state of emergency."

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