U.S. Pledges Aid to North Korea Train Explosion Victims

( [email protected] ) Apr 29, 2004 11:43 AM EDT

North Korea -- In response to a massive train collision occurred in Ryongchon, North Korea, various relief organizations, both Christian and non-Christian, are actively involved to provide emergency aid to the thousands of victims starting today, April 29.

Two fuel trains collided at a North Korean railroad station in Ryongchon, which is located at the border of North Korea and China, April 22. There was a massive explosion due to the collision, raining debris more than 10 miles around, leaving a big crater in the middle of the city.

North Korea government has declared for help but they are not releasing any detail information of explosion casualties for security purposes. According to Korean Central News, the explosion occurred at Ryongchon Railway Station in North Phyongan Province was due to the electrical contact caused by carelessness during the shunting of wagons loaded with ammonium nitrate fertilizer and tank wagons.

South Korean media reports are expecting that as many as 3,000 people might have been killed and injured. So far, the death toll from Thursday's explosion turned out to be 161, including 76 children from one destroyed school, destroying 8,100 homes and more than 30 public buildings and injuring more than 1,300 people. About 20,000 rescuers were at the site.

Many suffered severe burns and eye injuries from the explosion, leaving them deaf and blind, said Dr. Eigil Sorensen from WHO.

The victims who have lost their homes are in great need of food, blankets, and medicines.

The United States, China, Australia, Germany and Japan are among countries that have offered aid. U.S. will give the Red Cross $100,000 to help the victims.

One of the major Christian organizations that are providing relief is World Vision. World Vision has already sent provisions to North Korea including bread and drinking water, as well as shoes that were supplied in collaboration of North Korean support groups. World Vision’s “Kind People” corporation also sent $40,000 worth of provisions, including 5,000 blankets and medical supplies, through the Federation of Korean Industries.

Meanwhile, other relief groups such as Red Cross, World Health Organization and various domestic support organizations are sending medial supplies and other living necessities.

As a place known for independence movement by thousands of students and Christians in 1945, against communist regime, a large population of Christians were living in Ryongheon region.

John Park, a retired pastor of Korean Presbyterian Church in Seattle who fled south before the Korean War, said his former church in Korea was in a town near the explosion site.

"A pretty large number of Christians were there, before the Korean War started.”