Believers respond to the train crash in North Korea.

By April 27, 2004

North Korea (MNN)–North Korea’s train blast toll continues to rise, and hospitals are overwhelmed with victims.

Very few medical facilities in the secretive country have the necessary supplies to tend to the serious nature of the wounds they are seeing.

North Korea’s first official report on the disaster blamed the Thursday incident on carelessness during the shunting of wagons loaded with ammonium nitrate fertiliser and fuel tanker wagons.

The blast flattened a primary school nearby, and several other buildings. The death toll stood at 161 and more than 1,300 people were injured in the huge blast, fed by oil and chemicals, aid agencies said. Official media reports indicated 8,100 houses or apartments were damaged, including 1,850 that were totally destroyed.

Under the circumstances, the international community mustered an immediate response, only to be rebuffed at the country’s land border with South Korea.

International Aid’s Myles Fish has a different story. “We have a shipment en route to North Korea right now that contains all of the equipment necessary to outfit a hospital for North Korea.”

What’s more, Fish says, as of April 26th, they’ve been, “in communication with a partner agency who is onsite in North Korea right now who is trying to coordinate some disaster relief assistance for the victims of the train crash.”
North Korea is notably hostile to believers, so ministry comes slowly. As for that part of the outreach, Fish explains they’re in the first step of a two-step process. “First of all, trying to establish relationships with people–they will not know, necessarily, that the hospital itself is being supported by a Christian organization, but in that kind of an environment, it’s our hope that we’ll be able to establish the relationships and eventually have the opportunity, because of those relationships, to share our faith in Christ.”

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