Seven members of a shock brigade have been killed during blasting work at a recovery site along the Hambuk Rail Line, an area damaged by the large scale flooding in North Hamgyong Province. Sources within North Korea report that while the authorities have announced the reopening of the site in the state-run publication, Rodong Sinmun, no mention of the casualties has been made in state media.
“The shock brigade was mobilized to repair a site in a village near Hoeryong City. The unit was trying to remove bedrock so they could lay down a new rail line, but an explosion went out of control, killing seven,” a source from North Hamgyong Province reported on September 30.
“No compensation has been given to the relatives of the deceased, and there has been no in-depth investigation to determine responsibility for the accident. In fact, little has changed at the site since the accident, with orders from above to finish the recovery work before October 20.”
This information was corroborated by multiple sources in North Hamgyong Province.
Fatal accidents like this are a common occurrence at construction sites in North Korea. However, it is noteworthy that the authorities have not postponed the deadline for the “speed battle” construction in the aftermath of the incident.
As families of the seven deceased members of the shock brigade were not provided with compensation, they were quietly buried in the mountains without proper funerals. Those family members living far from the site of the accident were not even able to attend the burials, and were instead forced to mourn without seeing their loved ones.
“If simple safety precautions were followed, events like this would happen much less frequently. Instead, the authorities are in a mad dash to respond to the flood damage, which is causing confusion and accidents,” the source lamented.
This lack of accountability suggests that similar accidents are bound to recur. “The authorities contacted the relevant unit commander and conducted a brief investigation, but the commander insisted that the shock troopers died because of personal negligence, and the case was dropped. In response to this, some residents are saying that the victims have been killed twice. They regard the fact that no officials are taking the blame for the accident as a tragedy in itself.”