Two ethnic Koreans with close ties to North Korea were killed in the devastating earthquake and tsunami that ripped across northeastern Japan last week, a pro-North Korea group there said Monday.
The two had been labouring in a seaside village in the eastern Japanese prefecture of Ibaraki at the time of their deaths, the general Association of Korean Residents in Japan (Chongryon) said in its regular paper, the Chosun Sinbo, without giving further details. It added that no other damage was reported among other ethnic Koreans in the country as of 3 p.m. Monday.
Chongryon is the largest organisation of pro-Pyongyang ethnic Koreans in Japan that was formed in 1955.
The 9.0-magnitude earthquake and ensuing tsunami last Friday has already claimed thousands of lives, Japanese authorities say, with the death toll expected to rise to the tens of thousands.
Among ethnic Koreans in Iwate and Fukishima prefectures — two of the worst affected areas in eastern Japan — the extent of damage is likely to go “beyond imagination,” the paper said, adding that they are currently out of reach, apparently due to communication problems.
“The Chongryon central emergency response committee decided to concentrate its efforts on surveying fellow Koreans in the tsunami-hit areas and to start across-the-board projects to send rescue teams and collect relief funds,” it said.
North Korea has remained largely mum on the disaster, releasing only a few related news reports through its official news agency and TV station.