Feature

A town obliterated

The week's news at a glance.

Yongchon, North Korea

The massive explosion of a train loaded with chemicals last week destroyed much of a small town, killed several hundred people, and injured 1,300, including hundreds of schoolchildren. The reclusive regime of Kim Jong Il, overwhelmed by the number of casualties, issued a rare appeal for international help. South Korea pledged $1 million in medical supplies and other aid. Pyongyang insisted that it arrive by sea, instead of across the world’s most heavily fortified border. Masood Hyder, a senior World Food Program official, was allowed to visit a hospital, and said that many of the injured had gouged-out eyes and charred faces. “If you were facing [the blast], you got it straight in the face,” Masood said. He said hospital officials “were freely admitting to us…they need everything.”

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