Brussels ready to help North Korea

23.04.04 @ 17:30

  1. By Andrew Beatty

BRUSSELS - The EU has said it is standing ready to assist in the aftermath of Thursday's train catastrophe in North Korea.

  • A Commission representative will visit the site late tonight (Photo: European Commission)

It is unclear what exactly happened yesterday in the town of Ryonchon near the Chinese border, or indeed how many people have been killed.

It is thought the accident was caused by a train carrying an explosive cargo, although details are sketchy.

Scores of people are said to have been killed, with some estimates putting the number of fatalities in the thousands.

Development spokesperson Jean-Charles Ellermann-Kingombe said on Friday that a representative from the EU's humanitarian assistance team in North Korea will visit the site late tonight (early morning local time) to assess the situation.

It is expected that a initial assessment will be made and a decision made within 72 hours.

The EU currently funds several aid agencies that work on the ground including the International Red Cross/Red Crescent.

A representative of that organisation was expected to visit the site today.

Asked whether the EU representative would be allowed to get a clear picture of the situation on the ground given the secrecy of the Pyongyang regime and the time elapsed since the accident occurred, Mr Ellermann-Kingombe pointed out that they had been invited by the authorities to visit the site.

"We have no reason to question their intentions", he said.