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A gas leak in a Hyesan house was blamed for a series of explosions that left nine North Koreans dead, and at least 30 injured on Tuesday. Two more are in critical condition at a local hospital following the explosion.
A source in Yanggang province said that all six dead were still unconscious at the hospital.
The source also said it is “highly likely” the two in critical condition, who suffered from third-degree burns, will die.
The relatives are taking drastic measures to save the injured, including paying for medicines to be delivered to them intravenously.
Another 10 suffered injuries to their arms and head, among other areas, from glass shattering during the explosions.
The head of the Organisation and Guidance Department in the Hyesan Party Committee is leading efforts to cleanup debris from the site of the incident in cooperation with local and government authorities
Teams from the city’s Ministry of Social Security office were also sent to the incident site at around 4pm yesterday to prevent locals from approaching the site.
The teams reportedly confiscated cellphones from anyone trying to take pictures of the destroyed buildings.
But news of the incident spread quickly in the city, as many people heard and witnessed the explosions.
Another source told Daily NK that a gas leak built up in a house in Hyesan, which then ignited at 6:10pm local time on Tuesday.
Liquid petroleum gas cylinders attached to nearby houses then exploded, causing a series of fires and explosions.
The source said: “One section of harmonica houses were completely destroyed by the explosion.
“There’s absolutely nothing of value left inside them.”
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North Korean authorities have refused to give “compensation” to victims of the explosions.
They said that the explosions were caused by the residents “carelessness”.
No fire trucks appeared to deal with the fires, which were reportedly put out one and a half hours after they had started.
Yanggang Province authorities have said they will supply rice, blankets, clothes and other necessities to those affected by the incident.
But the costs for these necessities will reportedly be levied on local citizens.
An investigation into the incident has begun, with the North Korean Ministry of Social Security office claiming they have made an arrest.
The occupant of the house that filled with gas, who is apparently the commander of a sentry post on the Sino-North Korean border, is now being questioned.
Strangely, authorities are also inquiring about whether any households rescued portraits of Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il.
A source told Daily NK this was part of efforts to use the incident as an opportunity to promote loyalty toward the regime.
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