Pyongyang's popular Koryo Hotel catches fire: Witness

SEOUL (REUTERS) - A section of the Koryo Hotel, one of the oldest and best known hotels in Pyongyang, caught fire on Thursday, a source who witnessed the fire in the North Korean capital told Reuters.

Plumes of black smoke were visible from some of the upper floors of the 43-storey hotel, said the witness, who declined to be identified.

The Koryo Hotel is a 143-metre twin-tower structure, a short distance from Pyongyang's bustling train station and the Taedong river which cuts through the city.

Access to the area around the hotel was restricted, the witness said, adding that a heavy downpour may have helped contain the blaze. It was not immediately clear if the hotel had been evacuated.

North Korea is one of the world's most isolated and secretive countries, and there was no mention in state media of the fire.

In May last year, North Korean state media said the government had apologised to bereaved families after an apartment building collapsed in Pyongyang, possibly killing hundreds.

Unlike the unfinished 105-storey pyramid-shaped Ryugyong Hotel, the Koryo Hotel has for years been the go-to hotel for foreign tourists visiting North Korea.