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North Korea Acknowledges Train Accident

23 April 2004 (RFE/RL) -- A North Korean diplomat today acknowledged that an "accident" occurred yesterday at a railway station near its border with China, and that it needs assistance from the international community to deal with the aftermath.

North Korean Ambassador to the United Nations Pak Gil-yon said today in New York that the explosion was "due to carelessness."

International media have reported that the blast was caused by either a railway crash or the ignition of explosive material being transported by rail.

Pak's statement came after numerous reports from officials outside the country about the explosion at Ryongchon station. North Korean media has not yet reported the incident to its citizens.

In London today, a British Foreign Office spokeswoman said North Korean officials have said "several hundred" people died and "several thousand" more were injured in the blast.

A number of countries have offered assistance. The European Union today approved 200,000 euros ($238,000) in emergency medical aid for North Korea.

A team of aid workers and several foreign diplomats are scheduled to visit the site tomorrow.

(Reuters, AFP, dpa)