HONG KONG (BLOOMBERG) - About 200 people may have died when tunnels collapsed at a North Korean nuclear test site in October, TV Asahi reported, citing unidentified people familiar with North Korean matters.
Kim Jong Un's regime detonated an underground nuclear device near the Punggye-ri site in northeast North Korea on Sept 3, setting off an earthquake with a magnitude of about 6.3 that was felt as far away as China. About 100 people got caught in a collapsed tunnel around Oct 10, while the others were trapped in a further collapse during a rescue attempt, TV Asahi said.
China warned North Korea on Sept 20 that further nuclear tests could blow the top off a mountain and spark a potential catastrophic collapse at the site, the South China Morning Post reported Oct 28.
Researchers from the Chinese Academy of Sciences' Institute of Geology and Geophysics briefed a North Korean delegation in Beijing about the threat, the paper said, citing senior Chinese geologist Zhai Mingguo.
A Chinese scientist has also expressed concern that radioactive waste could bleed from cracks or holes at the site and be blown across the border into China, the SCMP reported.
Two days after the briefing in Beijing, North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho announced at the United Nations in New York that Pyongyang might consider detonating a "most powerful" hydrogen bomb over the Pacific Ocean.