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Fire breaks out at Pyongyang's Koryo Hotel

The accident is quite possibly the first time foreigners, and not North Korean authorities, alerted the outside world to a public disaster from Pyongyang.

By
Elizabeth Shim
Flames consumed the bridge that connects the Koryo Hotel's twin towers for about an hour, according to a witness. The fire continued late into the night at the hotel in Pyongyang, North Korea. Photo by Yonhap
Flames consumed the bridge that connects the Koryo Hotel's twin towers for about an hour, according to a witness. The fire continued late into the night at the hotel in Pyongyang, North Korea. Photo by Yonhap

SEOUL, June 12 (UPI) -- A fire broke out late Thursday at a Pyongyang hotel catering to foreigners. The cause has yet to be determined.

South Korean news network YTN reported the fire started around 5:30 p.m. on the 36th floor of the 43-story Koryo Hotel close to Pyongyang's Taedong River.

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Flames consumed the sky bridge that connects the hotel's twin towers for around an hour, according to a witness. North Korean police, military personnel and emergency vehicles were dispatched to the site, but the origin of the fire was not disclosed, nor the number of hotel evacuees given.

Voice of America reported North Korean authorities said the fire was not serious enough to warrant an evacuation of hotel guests or employees.

Foreigners who attempted to record the fire on video were arrested, according to South Korean news agency Yonhap. A column of black smoke was seen around the hotel until 11:45 p.m., and North Koreans were quoted as saying the fire had burned the interior of the hotel, according to a foreign witness.

The fire is an unusual report out of North Korea. According to Radio Free Asia, the accident is quite possibly the first time foreigners, and not North Korean authorities, alerted the outside world of a public disaster from Pyongyang.

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The Koryo Hotel was completed in 1985 and is considered a luxury accommodation in North Korea's capital. Koryo Hotel and Pyongyang's Yanggakdo Hotel are the most popular accommodations for foreigners staying in North Korea.

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