A huge explosion ripped through a North Korean town near the border with South Korea, killing scores of people and inflicting extensive damage, South Korea's Yonhap news agency reported today.
Yonhap, giving the first details of the scale of the Wednesday blast, said scores were killed, hundreds injured and many buildings within a radius of 2 miles destroyed.
It said the explosion occurred near the Pyonggang railway station 4 miles north of the Demilitarized Zone dividing the peninsula.
A Defense Ministry spokesman in Seoul said Saturday that a southern military observation post had reported a huge explosion and flames in Pyonggang Wednesday. He said the ministry was unable to determine what caused the blast.
Yonhap said North Korean media carried a brief report Thursday about the blast, saying troops helped in rescue work.
"The explosion is presumed to be an accident which is nothing to with an atomic bomb test," it said.
The Defense Ministry spokesman said Saturday: "Taking into account the scale and the flames and sound, it is believed that there was an explosion either in a big armory or an oil storage tank."
The spokesman was not available for comment today on the Yonhap report.
The news agency said the explosion was much more powerful than a blast in the southern South Korean city of Iri in 1977 when a freight train carrying dynamite blew up, killing 56 people and injuring 1,300.