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North Korean nuclear facility tunnel collapse kills 200, prompts fear of radioactive leaks: report

A photo released by KCNA news agency on March 12, 2013, shows North Korea leader Kim Jong Un visiting the Wolnae-do Defence Detachment on the western front line. (KCNA/Xinhua/Zuma Press/MCT/TNS)
October 31, 2017

More than 200 North Koreans have reportedly been killed following a tunnel collapse at a North Korean nuclear test facility, according to a report. And now there are apparently fears of radioactive leaks that could lead to a “Chernobyl- or Fukushima-style disaster.”

North Korea (Twitter)

Japan’s TV Asahi initially reported about the incident on Tuesday, and said 100 people were trapped and killed in the Oct. 10 tunnel collapse, and about 100 others were killed during a rescue mission, South Korean Yonhap News Agency reported.

North Korea (Twitter)

The accident took place during the construction of an underground tunnel at the Pukyung nuclear test site in northeast North Korea, a North Korean official said, according to TV Asahi.

North Korea (Twitter)

The accident was due to “weakening of the surrounding grounds” following North Korea’s sixth nuclear test earlier this year, on Sept. 3, TV Asahi reported.

Yonhap also reported: “The Korea Meteorological Administration said in a National Assembly audit on October 30 that ‘a joint of 60 ~ 100 [meters] was found in the basement of Pukgyeri Bay with a nuclear test site.'”

“The disaster has prompted fears of a massive radioactive leak which could spark a Chernobyl- or Fukushima-style disaster,” The Sun reported.

A top North Korean official said last week that what North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho says should be taken “literally” – including his recent threat to of nuclear test over the Pacific Ocean.

North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho threatened in September to test an H-bomb after a slew of accusations from North Korean dictator Jim Kong Un, in response to President Trump’s intense U.N. General Assembly speech on Sept. 19, during which the President said “Rocket Man” Kim Jong Un is on a “suicide mission” and that the U.S. would “totally destroy” North Korea if need be.

President Donald Trump is expected to visit Asia in November. While it was initially reported that he might visit the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) that divides North and South Korea, Trump is reportedly no longer going to the DMZ.

In October, North Korea again threatened to bomb the U.S. territory of Guam in the Pacific, this in light of what Pyongyang refers to as “reckless moves” by the U.S.

The last threat to Guam came in August on the heels of President Donald Trump saying North Korea would be “met with fire and fury like the world has never seen” if it continues to threaten the U.S.

North Korea had also responded to the latest presence of American and allied aircraft over the Korean Peninsula. The U.S. in early October sent bombers over both coasts of South Korea to conduct mock military drills.

The show of force during tense times came despite North Korea threatening to shoot down U.S. bombers if it has to, after the country led by dictator Kim Jong Un claimed the U.S. declared war when President Trump tweeted that North Korea “won’t be around much longer” if it keeps threatening the United States.

The United States and South Korea have most recently performed joint naval exercises, and such events especially enrage North Korea, which views them as rehearsals for war and invasions of the country.

It is no secret that emotions run high on both the U.S. and North Korean sides of this situation. President Trump and North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un have exchanged fierce comments back and forth for several weeks now.

The U.S. had sent bombers in late September – the aircraft flew the farthest north of the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) any U.S. bomber or fighter aircraft has been in the 21st Century.

The President also recently shut down Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s statements that the U.S. has an open line of communication with Pyongyang, and would hope to solve the conflict diplomatically. Trump alluded to the fact that his Administration and, most likely, the U.S. Military would be taking care of the situation on the Korean Peninsula.