Pyongyang Building Collapse Leaves Many Casualties

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) -

North Korean officials offered a rare public apology for the collapse of an apartment building under construction in Pyongyang, which a South Korean official said was believed to have caused considerable casualties that could mean hundreds might have died.

The word of the collapse in the secretive nation’s capital was reported Sunday by the North’s official Korean Central News Agency, which gave no death toll but said that the accident was “serious” and upset North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong Un.

The report said it occurred in the capital’s Phyongchon district on Tuesday “as the construction of an apartment house was not done properly and officials supervised and controlled it in an irresponsible manner.”

In Seoul, a South Korean government official speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the information said the 23-story apartment building that collapsed was presumed to have housed 92 families.

That could mean the casualties could be in the hundreds because a typical North Korean family has four members. However, it was not clear whether all the residents were inside at the time of the collapse, or that four people lived in each apartment.

The KCNA report cited one official as saying Kim Jong Un “sat up all night, feeling painful after being told about the accident.”