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North Korea Says It Needs Building, School Supplies After Train Blast - 2004-04-27


North Korea has asked rival South Korea for building materials and school supplies, in the aftermath of last week's deadly train explosion near the Chinese border.

The North Korean request came during a meeting Tuesday with a South Korean delegation in the Korean border town of Kaesong. South Korean officials say the North has requested bulldozers, diesel fuel, cement and supplies for schools like desks and chairs.

Seoul says it will consider the request and respond to it soon.

The death toll from the blast now is put at 161, including dozens of children at a school that was destroyed by the blast. More than 1,300 other people were hurt in the explosion, which took place in northwest Ryongchon.

North Korea's official news agency (KCNA) says the explosion caused about 356 million dollars in damage. It says more than 30 public buildings and 8,100 homes were destroyed in a four-kilometer radius around the Ryongchon train station.

South Korea already has pledged one million dollars in relief goods and has said it is ready to send them as early as Wednesday. Russia flew emergency supplies to North Korea Tuesday, and China has sent truckloads of tents, blankets and food. Several other countries have offered assistance.

South Korea's Yonhap news agency says the country's top four corporations are collecting money from their employees to help the victims of the North Korean disaster. Samsung, LG, Hyundai and SK are hoping to provide more than six million dollars through the local Red Cross.

Also in South Korea, civic groups, TV stations and other organizations are collecting money for aid to the victims.

Information for this story is provided by AP, AFP

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