North Korea touts post-flood railroad recovery as ‘miracle’

SEOUL, Sept. 19 (UPI) — North Korea stated Monday parts of its railroad system have been recovered after widespread floods led to severe damage to state infrastructure.

Seoul, however, is showing little interest in extending aid to the country.

Pyongyang’s Workers’ Party newspaper Rodong Sinmun reported the railroad between two stations in Musan, a city near the China border, was restored.

“On [Sept.] 17 at 5 p.m. countless people cheered the first train that left the Go Musan Youth Station and arrived in Musan Station…the train carried cement and steel products, tools for relief efforts, and was headed for Musan County’s damage restoration zone,” the North Korean newspaper reported Monday.

The article also said 180,000 square meters of roadbed were destroyed at 43 locations along the tracks, and that tracks between another station and Musan were recovered in 10 days.

North Korea called its rail recovery efforts a “miracle.”

The floods, described as “catastrophic” and responsible for hundreds dead and missing according to Pyongyang state media, have invited response from the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.

Seoul, however, appears to be reluctant to offer assistance to North Korea, which it has condemned for a fifth nuclear test.

South Korean Unification Ministry spokesman Jeong Joon-hee told reporters on Monday that Seoul has not received any request for aid from the North, and it’s unlikely the government will give support, News 1 reported.

Jeong also said a survey of the flood damage must also come before any offer of aid is extended, adding Pyongyang must offer transparency to the South about its emergency needs.

The spokesman also criticized the North for carrying out a fifth nuclear test despite its “enormous costs” to the country while floods were destroying homes and leaving hundreds of thousands homeless.

Not all in South Korea are in agreement with the government’s position.

Woo Sang-ho, floor leader of the main opposition Minjoo Party of Korea, said Monday assistance on humanitarian grounds cannot be postponed, citing 500 deaths and 100,000 displaced.

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