North Korea admits six died in iron ore mine accident
North Korea has admitted that six people died in January when the roof of a mine collapsed, which is considered an unusual admission of a deadly accident in the secretive country.
Seven miners were initially trapped after the Jan. 9 incident at the Unryul mine, a top iron ore producer in the country's southwest, state-controlled newspaper Rodong Sinmun reported, according to AP.
One of the trapped workers was rescued 10 days later, but the six others were already dead.
The article noted the only survivor was rescued 10 days after the accident, the worst ever registered at the mine, adding that the others were found dead.
Rodong Sinmun newspaper, run by the ruling Workers' Party, said the roof collapsed as miners were launching "all-out" efforts to fulfill an order by leader Kim Jong Un to produce more ore to be used at local factories as part of the government’s five-year economic development plan.
The sole survivor, identified as Kim Kyong Nam, said all the workers could have survived had they left the premises as soon as they heard the sound of the collapse, which they didn’t.
North Korea is thought to have vast reserves of rare earths, which are worth more than $6 trillion according to the South Korean national mining company. There are several Chinese companies present in the country’s mining sector, which have invested about $500 million in the last 11 years.
The country is also naturally abundant in metals such magnesite (second largest in the world), zinc, tungsten, and iron ore.