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Blast in Ryongchon

01 May 2004

MYSTERY surrounds a huge explosion at Ryongchon in North Korea on April 22. Initial reports said that it had been caused by the collision of two fuel trains, but later accounts blamed the explosion on the ignition of ammonium nitrate from contact with overhead power cables.

Reports suggesting that 3000 people died had been revised down to 161 deaths and 1300 injured by April 26. We shall probably never know the real cause, other than the government's remarks about 'human error'. Suffice it to say that the passage of the North Korean leader in his private train through Ryongchon 9 h earlier may not have been a coincidence.