A tunnel at North Korea’s Punggye-ri nuclear test site has collapsed, killing at least 200 people. The disaster has raised fears of a “Chernobyl-like” radioactive leak that could spread beyond the country’s borders.
According to Japanese source Asahi TV, a North Korean official said the tunnel collapsed on October 10th, less than a month after the regime’s latest nuclear test. The tunnel, situated under Mount Mantap, had been damaged from the blast. Approximately a hundred people were caught in the initial collapse, and a hundred more people were trapped by a second collapse while trying to rescue them.
Experts have been warning that the nuclear test site was on the verge of collapse since a detonation test on September 3rd. The bomb that was tested, North Korea’s most powerful to date, was said to be ten times more powerful than the bombs the US dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. According to North Korean authorities, the bomb was capable of being loaded onto an intercontinental ballistic missile, meaning that it could hypothetically target faraway countries.
According to the United States Geological Survey, the test triggered a 6.3-magnitude earthquake, and a 4.1 magnitude event less than ten minutes later that suggested a structural collapse. In the month since, there have been frequent tremors in the area, and satellite images show that Mount Mantap has been experiencing landslides. North Korean watchdog agency 38 North had suggested that Mantap might be suffering from “tired mountain syndrome,” which occurs when widespread fractures put a mountain in danger of collapse.
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