A major traffic accident in North Korea has resulted in numerous casualties, among them Chinese tourists, the countrys foreign ministry has confirmed.
"The Chinese Embassy in North Korea was informed by the DPRK that a serious traffic accident occurred on North Korea's Huanghai Road at night, causing heavy casualties to Chinese tourists," the foreign ministry said, adding that "relevant details are currently being verified."
The ministry has not yet disclosed the number of dead and injured, but noted that Chinese diplomats immediately rushed to the scene of the accident. The ministry says it immediately initiated an “emergency mechanism” and has been “sparing no effort” in attending to the situation.
Full details of the incident have yet to be officially disclosed. Earlier, however, the Chinese state news agency CGTN had posted a tweet reporting that a tour bus had fallen off a bridge, killing 30 people. The tweet was then deleted. Meanwhile, travel industry sources also allegedly confirmed to NK News on Monday that more than 30 people have died in a tour bus crash in North Korea.
The tragedy reportedly involved a group of Chinese travel company staff from Beijing, who were returning to Pyongyang from the southern city of Kaesong.
The segment of the road where the accident is believed to have occurred is currently undergoing a major renovation project, ahead of Fridays summit between Korean leaders Kim Jong-un and Moon Jae-in, multiple sources told NK News. In addition, weather conditions could have contributed to the tragedy, with heavy rain and wind reported on the Korean peninsula on Sunday.
North Korea attracts a significant number of Chinese tourists from its fellow communist neighbor, worth about $44 million in additional annual revenue to Pyongyang. About 80 percent of all North Korea's foreign tourists are Chinese, the Korea Maritime Institute estimates. According to Beijing, more than 237,000 Chinese visited the country in 2012.
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