Authorities in North Hamgyong Province blamed for electrocutions

Onsong County, North Hamgyong Province. Image: Daily NK

A number of electrical transmission poles have recently collapsed in North Korea due to torrential rain, resulting in the fatal electrocutions of a child and a soldier. Residents are expressing anger over the failure of the authorities to prevent the incidents, Daily NK sources have reported.

“The wires from transmission poles near a reservoir called Apple Swamp within Changpyong Farm were spread all over the rain-soaked ground. A nine-year-old child and a soldier died after coming into contact with the electric wires on August 15,” a North Hamgyong Province-based source told Daily NK.

“The reservoir is used by many local residents to bathe and wash their clothes. Children also play in it. The child who died was playing in the water when they were electrocuted after stepping on one of the wires. A soldier nearby tried to save the child but also got electrocuted.”

The source said that while it’s natural that fallen transmission poles can cause electrocutions, people are upset that the authorities did not do more to prevent the incident.

“The fallen poles were sitting there for three days and nobody tried to remove them,” added a separate source in North Hamgyong Province.

“Residents are angry that the soldier died trying to save the child and are criticizing the local electricity office for not clearing the fallen poles,” said the source. For their part, the local authorities are blaming the electrocutions on torrential rains and refusing to take the blame for the incident.

The incident comes in the wake of the authorities also having avoided taking responsibility for another safety incident.

Daily NK learned via a North Korean source last month that two soldiers who were part of a military unit repairing a bridge on the Nampo-Pyongyang expressway died after falling off the structure. Sources reported that the military unit blamed the two soldiers for failing to follow safety procedures.

A Daily NK investigation also found that at least 26 people died during the construction of a railway into Samjiyon County. The authorities did not apologize or properly deal with the remains of the dead workers, and proper compensation was not paid to the victims’ families.

From August 11 to 15, the Sonbong area of North Hamgyong Province (near Onsong) received 189 mm of rain, according to the Korea Meteorological Administration.

Korea Central TV (KCTV) reported on August 14 that Korea’s east coast, including Kangwon Province’s seaside area, was set to receive 100-150 mm of rain together with strong winds due to Tropical Storm Krosa.