Did Bungled Rescue Lead to Greater Loss?

Lee Sang Yong  |  2014-05-24 16:56

Negligence in the aftermath of last weeks collapse of a Pyongyang apartment block may have resulted in many additional deaths, a Daily NK source has alleged. The source from the North Korean capital asserts that officials failed to deploy the necessary rescue equipment despite repeated calls for assistance.

The source told Daily NK on the 23rd, During the day on May 13th, there was a huge bang and then the new apartment block in Pyeongcheon started to collapse. People on the first and second floors were able to get out in time and were rescued, but the remaining 80+ households almost all died.

Some people who had managed to escape then used cell phones to let the Ministry of Peoples Security and local administrative office know what had happened, but barely a handful of cadres came when they heard the news, the source said, alleging, There was no proper rescue mission to speak of; they managed to pull out a few who had been pinned under the debris, that was all.

Moreover, They didnt use any equipment in the rescue work, just mobilized people. That must have served to exacerbate the death toll. It wasn't until three days later that an excavator was brought in from another construction site, even though that is more or less essential for this kind of thing. Of course, by then not one person was left alive.

According to the source, many military and Party cadres occupied the apartment block in Ansan No.1 neighborhood of Pyeongcheon District, as first priority for new-build homes tends to go to senior elites. It is believed that most of the men were at their workplaces at the time of collapse, meaning that the victims tended to be women, children, and the elderly.

In relation to the public apology by Minister of Peoples Security Choe Pu Il, the source explained, They had no choice but to apologize, because news of how poorly the accident had been dealt with was already spreading. People dont say it out loud, but they are disappointed [in Kim Jong Eun] because of it.

Meanwhile, the authorities are believed to be in the process of questioning representatives from the military unit that was responsible for the construction project.

It fell under the 7th Bureau of the Ministry of Peoples Armed Forces, the source said. They are saying that full responsibility for the deaths is with them, and are doing a thorough investigation; but they are just the ones with working-level responsibility. The 7th Bureau is the department of the Ministry that manages state facilities and construction. It was the department in charge of state plans to build 100,000 homes in the capital, a project that began in the lead-up to the April 15th, 2012 100th anniversary of the birth of Kim Il Sung.

They are pressing them over the practice of siphoning off materials like cement and iron bars for reinforcing concrete, the source explained. It appears that the [military] cadres who took bribes during housing distribution won't be able to avoid going to prison camp.

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