May 18, 2014 2:14 am
Updated: May 18, 2014 2:22 am

North Korea issues public apology for apartment building collapse

"Kim Jong-un sat up all night, feeling painful after being told about the accident," North Korea's state-run Korean Central News Agency reported. (File photo)

Ed Jones (AFP)/Getty Images

North Korean state media is reporting a “serious” building collapse earlier this week in the capital Pyongyang.

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As reported by South Korea’s Yonhap News Agency Sunday morning, North Korea‘s state-run Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said the collapse happened on May 13 in the city’s Phyongchon district; senior officials have issued public apologies and expressed “deep consolation” to the families of the victims.

KCNA reported North Korea’s Minister of People’s Security Choe Pu-il said he “failed to find out factors that can put at risk the lives and properties of the people and to take thoroughgoing measures, thereby causing an unimaginable accident.”

The collapse is being blamed on “irresponsible” supervision at the construction site. The incident and Pyongyang residents are reported to be “greatly shocked” by the accident.

The number of casualties is not known, but supreme leader Kim Jong-un is reported to have formed a “state emergency mechanism” to carry out rescue operations and tend to those injured.

Rescue operations are reported to have ended on Saturday.

Yonhap reported the building was 23 stories high and still under construction, but people may have already been living in the structure.

“In North Korea, it is common that people move into a new apartment even before the construction is completed,” Yonhap reported a South Korean government official saying.

“About 92 households may have been living in the apartment [building],” said the South Korean official, who requested anonymity according to Yonhap.

“Kim Jong-un sat up all night, feeling painful after being told about the accident,” KCNA reported.

KCNA reported the 31-year-old leader ordered “leading officials” in the ruling Workers’ Party of Korea, the state and the army to “[put] aside all other affairs and command the rescue operations.”

Yonhap noted it was unusual for an official apology to be issued and for North Korea’s state run media outlet to report on details of an accident that occurred inside the country.

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