Fire Visible From China Destroys Train and Warehouse at North Korean Station

Sandra Loyd

A fire at a train station in the North Korean city of Sinuiju ruined a freight train bring numerous lots of cooking oil from China and a warehouse full of freight, witnesses who saw the blaze from throughout the Chinese border informed RFA Friday.

People in Dandong, China, throughout the Yalu river border from Sinuiju reported seeing big columns of smoke increasing from the city Thursday early morning regional time. There has actually been no word on casualties or the reason for the fire.

“Here in Dandong, we could see the black smoke rising more than 100 meters (100 yards) at about 11 a.m. yesterday, near Gangan Station in Sinuiju across the river,” a homeowner of Dandong informed RFA’s Korea Service. The station is 1.8 km (1.1 mile) from the Yalu river and visible from Dandong on clear days.

“People from Dandong who were walking along the Yalu stopped in their tracks, wondering what was going on in Sinuiju,” stated the source, who asked for privacy to speak easily.

“A Chinese citizen resident of Sinuiju confirmed that the smoke was caused by a fire at the station,” stated the source, including, “the fire burned a freight train that had arrived at the station after carrying a full load of cargo from Dandong.”

According to the source, the black smoke was a result of cooking oil increasing in flames. 5 of the train’s 15 vehicles were filled with soybean oil, which remains in brief supply in North Korea.

“If you consider that a single freight car can carry 50 tons, then it means 250 tons of soybean oil was totally burned, causing the huge amount of smoke. The other 10 cars that were carrying foods such as flour have all been completely burned too,” the source stated.

The international market rate of one ton of soybean oil is approximated to be around U.S. $800 If the source’s quote is precise, the cooking oil alone was worth $200,000

Another citizen of Dandong, who asked for privacy for security factors, informed RFA that an associate in Sinuiju who saw the fire stated firemens had a hard time to handle the scenario.

“Gangan Station was equipped with a foam fire extinguisher, but people over there say that their initial effort to stop the fire failed because the extinguisher was empty. It did not contain any foam fluid,” the source stated.

“They also say that no one could get close to the burning train because of all the smoke, caused by the burning soybean oil, which went up only a few minutes after the fire started,” stated the source.

“So the people at the station who trying to extinguish the fire had no choice but to watch for an hour and a half while all the other valuable cargo stored in the station’s warehouse was burned down,” stated the source.

According to the second source, trains from Dandong do not typically stop at Gangan Station after going through customizeds.

“Instead of departing immediately for Pyongyang, they have to disinfect trains and quarantine the cargo for a certain amount of time to prevent coronavirus from spreading,” stated the second source.

“The cause of the fire, whether there were any casualties, and how much damage was caused by the fire has yet to be determined,” the second source stated.

Sinuiju is North Korea’s 6th biggest city, with a population of 360,000 people.

Reported by Joonho Kim for RFA’s Korean Service. Equated by Leejin Jun. Composed in English by Eugene Whong.

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