July 13 (UPI) -- A freight train at the North Korean border city of Sinuiju caught fire last week but the cause is unknown.
The fire was seen from the Chinese city of Dandong across the Yalu River on Thursday, said eyewitnesses who spoke to South Korean news agency Yonhap.
People on the Chinese side "saw black smoke" rising from the pier of Sinuiju and observed that the fire lasted several hours, the report says.
Sources in North Korea who spoke to Radio Free Asia said residents of Sinuiju knew of a "large fire" at the Kang An train station in the city.
The train had traveled from China, carrying cargo that was permitted to cross the border amid North Korean restrictions on cross-border activities during the coronavirus pandemic.
Several train cars were "burned to the ground." At least five cars were carrying about 250 tons of cooking oil, another 10 cars were loaded with flour.
The train may have not been equipped with properly functioning fire extinguishers as first responders tried to put out the fire, according to RFA.
North Koreans have lived with severe food shortages for decades.
In April, the Food and Agricultural Organization said about $10 million is needed to lift North Koreans out of food insecurity. The U.N. agency had also warned conditions could worsen amid the coronavirus pandemic.
North Korea is preparing flood prevention measures ahead of the rainy season. In past years, floods wiped out crops and may have displaced hundreds of thousands of people.
On Monday, Korean Workers' Party newspaper Rodong Sinmun said drainage systems at more than 70 locations and 90 water pumps have been repaired to protect crops in Kangwon Province.
The FAO has said 10.1 million North Koreans are food insecure, and that one-third of North Korean infants between 6 and 23 months of age are not receiving adequate nutrition.