North Korea on Friday denied that there had been deaths in an accident at its nuclear test ground following its latest atomic test as previously reported by a Japanese broadcaster. A TV Asahi report citing North Korean sources said some 200 people may have died when a tunnel collapsed days after North Korea’s nuclear test on September 3, reports Efe news. In a statement published by state-run Korean Central News Agency (KCNA), North Korea condemned what it described as a “false report”, and attacked the Japanese authorities for allowing TV Asahi to broadcast such information. Pyongyang accused the “Japanese reactionaries” of wanting to create a smokescreen with the report and of spreading the “fictitious story” that there was a “threat from the north”, which the regime considered an excuse to facilitate a future invasion of its territory. The regime also accused Tokyo of putting “interceptor missiles on a permanent deployment” and of mobilising ordinary citizens for an evacuation drill under the “pretext of the ballistic rocket launch by North Korea”.
Although it is impossible to verify the information reported by TV Asahi given the extreme secrecy of the North Korean regime, several experts said that Pyongyang’s repeated nuclear tests – six to date – could have caused significant structural damage to the tunnel in the Punggye-ri nuclear test ground.
South Korean Meteorological Administration director Nam Jae-cheol recently explained that a satellite image analysis showed the real possibility of a major collapse in Punggye-ri, located under a small mountain range in the northeast of North Korea, if another detonation occurs in the tunnels.