Ryongchon Train Tragedy

Project Emergency Response
Project Partners Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) through the World Health Organisation

The Disaster

In 2004 responded to the Ryongchon Train Tragedy and extended its aid to the DPRK. On 22nd April 2004, two trains carrying highly explosive ammonium nitrate blew up at Ryongchon railway station in North Pyongan Province, about 200kms north of the capital Pyongyang. This massive explosion resulted in deaths of approximately 160 people, injuries to 1,300 and destroyed or irreversibly damaged 1,850 homes. Among those injured included children from nearby schools. Our Response A team was despatched to the DPRK and delivered urgent medical supplies comprising mainly of broad spectrum antibiotics and disposable catheters requested by the DPRK and the Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) through the World Health Organisation. Visits and assessments were also done in health facilities in Ryongchong, Sinuiju and the Korea-Malaysia Friendship Farm near Sunchon City. MERCY Malaysia was one of the few international aid agencies given the opportunity by the DPRK to visit these facilities. In the hospital in Ryongchong and Sinuiju, we brought smiles to the faces of children hurt by the explosion when we distributed soft toys donated by caring Malaysians.

Assessments for Long Term Projects

Our team held meetings with various international aid organisations such as WHO, UNICEF, WFP, Save the Children and the International Federation of the Red Cross (IFRC). The MoPH and the Flood Disaster Reduction Committee, the coordinating body for local and international aid, were also consulted. These visits and meetings were conducted to assess the damage resulting from the train explosion, as well as to gather further information on the situation in the DPRK in general, which would help us determine our future aid to the country. In the Horizon The DPRK is experiencing a long term humanitarian crisis. 40% of its children and one in every three mothers are malnourished. Meanwhile, healthcare in the rural areas are generally rudimentary. MERCY Malaysia is sourcing funds in order to establish long term and sustainable aid projects in the DPRK.