Daily NK reports DPRK train wreck

From the Daily NK:

A source from Yangkang Province reported on the 27th in a telephone conversation with the Daily NK that, “On the 15th in Woonheung, 8 freight wagons carrying a total of 480 tons of gasoline and diesel overturned at dawn. The National Security Agency and the provincial security agency are examining the causes of the incident.”

In Youngha Workers-gu, which adjoins Baekam where this incident occurred, a train on the Hyesan-Pyongyang line overturned on March 27th, 2008, killing or wounding hundreds.

According to the source, there were 16 casualties, including merchants and an engineer on the freight train. 8 freight wagons completely overturned, causing the spill.

Right after the incident, North Korean authorities mobilized citizens to deal with it and dispatched the NSA to examine the causes.

The source said that, “As the train was going down a slope, a blackout occurred so the brakes did not work. However, the NSA presumes it happened deliberately, because similar incidents have occurred in this region.”

The North Korean authorities have been claiming to citizens that such incidents, which happen every year in Youngha Workers-gu, Woonheung and Baekam in Yangkang Province, are maneuvers by enemies. However, no criminals have been detained.

1. The DPRK’s railway system is outdated to say the least.  Many of the lines were laid during the Japanese occupation of the peninsula (pre-WWII).  After the Korean war, large sections were reconstructed, but needless to day, for the last 50+ years the system has suffered severe under-investment.  Recently it has been targeted as a major focus of the policy to create a “strong and prosperous nation” by 2012. 

2. We know from multiple tourists that the Pyongyang-Sinuiju line is operational.  We now know that the line from the Russian border to Pyongyang is operational.  Other than these two lines, the functionality of the DPRK’s railway system is largely a mystery to the outside world.

3. The Daily NK also reported a DPRK railway accident in April 2008 (here and here).

4. No word yet on whether the DPRK purchased life insurance for the passengers!

5. An excellent map of the DPRK’s railway system can be downloaded to Google Earth here.

6. You can read past blog posts about the DPRK’s railway system here.

You can read the full Daily NK story here:
Freight Train Overturned in Yangkang, 16 Casualties
Daily NK
Lee Sung Jin


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