Six miners dead, one rescued 10 days after mine collapse in North Korea

Six North Korean mine workers died and one was rescued 10 days after the collapse of a newly-opened tunnel at the Unryul Mine in South Hwanghae Province on January 9, ruling party organ the Rodong Sinmun reported on Monday.

A few minutes after 46-year-old chief engineer Ann Yun-seok and six other miners entered the tunnel, an “expected huge collapse” occurred.

“This is a great catastrophe seen for the first time since the mine was developed,” Rodong reported. “The damage was beyond imagination.”

“The amount of mud which was moved from the [collapsed] tunnel during the rescue operation reached [the weight of] dozens of heavy-duty freight trucks. [Everyone] at the mine went to the rescue battle.”

The central tunnel had produced high-quality iron ore since the 200-day mass mobilization campaign, which began on June 1, 2016, and lasted until December 15, Rodong said.

“The area where the mine is located is a limestone zone where there is a number of [limestone] cavities. The cavities can cause a large disruption affected by unpredictable geological effects,” the article reported, quoting Choe Song Joon, the facility’s head of mine engineering and design.

Kim Kyong Nam, who was “miraculously rescued” 10 days after the accident and was the only survivor, talked about his deceased colleagues while “gulping down tears,” according to the report.

Three were trapped in a confined space of 5 square meters as the muddy water rose up to 6 meters, with rocks above their heads which could have fallen at any time.

The muddy waters, which “came up to their chests,” began to recede slowly, three days after the collapse.

“There was no water to drink and nothing to eat. We were out of breath as the air was thin. No one could figure out how many days we could endure in such a terrible condition,” Rodong Sinmun reported, quoting Kim’s testimony. “But they believed their comrades would fight a desperate battle to save them…”


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