April 24, 2004

Update on Ryongchon train explosion

The Washington Post has an excellent overview on the Ryongchon train explosion. An updated casulty list has 154 dead and 1,300. In an earlier entry, I thought that it would be fantastic if the North Koreans opened up enough to let outside aid come in. It looks like they are doing just this: bq. South Korea announced it would immediately dispatch an emergency aid package of $1 million. Unification Minister Jeong Se Hyun, the country's highest-ranking official on North Korean policy, said a team of relief workers would coordinate terms of further assistance in a meeting with North Koreans Monday at Panmunjom, the truce village in the Demilitarized Zone between the two nations. bq. China, North Korea's most important ally and benefactor, offered $1.2 million in emergency relief. And China's official New China News Agency said President Hu Jintao had telephoned North Korean leader Kim Jong Il to offer condolences. bq. The European Union approved $240,000 for emergency medical aid and temporary shelters. And more: bq. The direct and relatively quick admission of the accident -- and the citing of human error -- was a rare departure for North Korea, which typically is silent on all news casting an even remotely negative light on the totalitarian government. It was years before Pyongyang requested relief following widespread famines in the mid- to late 1990s. bq. The official KCNA news service said the Pyongyang government appreciated the "willingness expressed by the governments of various countries and international bodies and organizations to render humanitarian assistance." Pyongyang's rapid decision to seek assistance appeared to surprise even some of its own officials. The article also addresses the 'stalemate' between North Korea and the USA and China regarding their development of nuclear technology. I do hope though that with this little bit of opening up, they become a little more amenable to working with the rest of the world. Posted by DaveH at April 24, 2004 10:00 PM