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North Korea confirms Pyongyang apartment building collapse, hundreds feared dead

The North Korean government was unusually forthcoming about the collapse of a 23-story apartment building in Pyongyang last week.
By Kate Stanton Follow @KateStan Contact the Author   |   May 19, 2014 at 1:51 AM

PYONGYANG, North Korea, May 19 (UPI) -- North Korean officials admitted Sunday that an apartment building in its showy capital, Pyongyang, collapsed last Tuesday.

In a rare display of openness, the state-run Korean Central News Agency said the incident occurred in Pyongyang's Phyongchon district.

The news agency said the accident "claimed casualties." It also pinned the collapse on shoddy construction, noting that "officials supervised and controlled it in an irresponsible manner."

Though its unclear how many people died, a South Korean official told the Yonhap news service that more than 90 families lived in the 23-story building.

Choe Pu Il, the North Korean minister of people's security, blamed himself and his agency for the "unpardonable crime." According to the state report, Kim Jong Un "sat up all night feeling painful" when he heard of the accident.

Kim has aligned himself with city construction efforts since he took over from his father in 2011, telling North Koreans in his New Year's address to "make concerted efforts to build up Pyongyang so that it is more grandiose."

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