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    RAILWAY CATASTROPHE IN NORTH KOREA. RUSSIAN RESCUERS READY TO HELP

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    MOSCOW, April 23 (RIA Novosti) - Specialists of the Russian Emergency Situations Ministry are ready to help North Koreans who have suffered from an explosion on the railway at the Yeonchun station, not far from the Chinese-North Korean border.

    "We think help can be above all in medicines, particularly burn-treatment preparations, tents and blankets. If need be, we can send in a mobile hospital with specialists", a source at the ministry said.

    The Russian Foreign Ministry is coordinating details of a possible humanitarian operation, having consultations with the North Korean side on the size of assistance, the source said. If an official request arrives to Russia from North Korea and the Russian government says yes, a planeload of the required cargoes can fly there very soon.

    "For now, we are getting prepared to airlift 10 to 15 tonnes of medicines, 1,000 blankets, 60 tents for ten people each, 25 tents for 30 people each. If the decision is taken, the plane can fly to North Korea on Monday", added the source.

    On Friday the Russian embassy in Pyongyang said that representatives of the Russian diplomatic mission will visit on Saturday the Yeonchun station, where the catastrophe happened, to see with their own eyes the scope of the tragedy. On the same day, a commission made up of representatives of several UN bodies, such as the UNICEF and the World Health Organisation, will go to the site to assess the scope of the catastrophe and the size of help need.

    As is known, the North Korean authorities have agreed to get help from the United Nations, European Union and other international humanitarian organisations.

    According to the latest information, as a result of the Thursday explosion of trainloads with supposedly explosives on the North Korean railway, over 150 people were killed and over 1,200 injured. Their number may be much more, as seen from the scope of destruction.

    Representatives of the International Committee of the Red Cross report that the explosion at the Yeonchun station has fully destroyed 1,850 houses, including 12 official buildings.

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