April 23, 2004

Does Not Compute

I've looked for possible explanations to reconcile the numbers on the North Korean train explosion yesterday and haven't found any. I'm talking about this:

The toll from a huge train blast at a North Korean railroad station was estimated today at between 54 and 150 dead and 1,249 injured. A total of 1,850 homes were leveled and 6,350 were damaged, according to the International Federation of the Red Cross in Beijing.
That's 1,850 homes "leveled" and yet less than 1/10 that number killed? Not that I'm sorry it's so low a number, mind you; I'm just wondering if it's at all accurate, particularly given the initial reports of 3000 dead.

Ah, I see I'm not the only one:

Remember the early reports of September 11, the first day of the first Gulf War, or the San Francisco earthquake of 1989? All ridiculously far off of the accuracy scale. I wonder why they feel the need to put numbers out even though they must know they canít be accurate. Who came up with 3000 and what could they have based it on?
While 3000 may have been an overestimate, I'm sadly doubting "54" is accurate. In general, I tend to mistrust nearly any numbers provided by totalitarian states, and particularly when contrasted with details like this (note: emphasis mine):
The train exploded Thursday afternoon, hitting Ryongchon, a manufacturing center, with the force of a small nuclear bomb, raining debris over a 10-mile radius and sending acrid smoke over the nearby border with China.
As for whether it was a bungled assassination attempt on Kim Jong Il--dear God, I hope not. I strongly doubt it, but then, I don't hang out on Democratic Underground, you know? Posted by Ilyka at April 23, 2004 04:30 PM in news

The part that simply stuns me the most was the fact that the Korean government's first act was to cut the phone lines.

That's right.

Cut the phone lines.

God forbid they ship in a little Bactine or bandages or something. Oh, no. First things first.

Posted by: Helen at April 23, 2004 05:53 PM

the poor people of North Korea continue to suffer. it may take a while to get the information from there, but it will come out. and it will be horrid.

Posted by: rammer at April 23, 2004 07:01 PM

Never believe any numbers that come from an official North Korean government source. Wait for international agencies to arrive on the ground and even then take the estimates with a grain of salt--since days will have passed before international observers are allowed on the scene.
N.Korea is a Potemkin village, with starving millions behind barbed wire just out of sight.
And they have nuclear weapons now, as of 1999. With missiles that can easily reach Seoul and Tokyo, and soon perhaps SanFrancisco and Seattle?

Posted by: BW at April 23, 2004 07:35 PM

LOL, when the US trys to take out leader these days, we're pretty clean about it - a hellfire missile fired from a predator.

And, it'd be pretty poor intelligence (but not past the CIA) to miss the sucker by 9 hours.

BTW, more communist newspeak - the official story is that the dear butterball leader was born in N. Korea, on some sacred mountain. He was born in Russia. You can't trust a thing they say, except that it's a lie.

Posted by: Flighterdoc at April 24, 2004 12:08 AM