On September 3rd, North Korea conducted its sixth and largest nuclear test to date. The dual-stage device was a first for Kim’s regime, who had previously only been able to harness the power of traditional atomic bombs. The successful detonation of the country’s first hydrogen bomb had a reverberating effect throughout the world, as nations like the United States had to acknowledge the massive leap in destructive power the test represented for the reclusive state. However, it also created far more physical reverberations within North Korea itself.
The test detonation, it is now believed, resulted in the collapse of an underground tunnel that was part of North Korea’s testing facility, trapping or killing as many as one hundred people. Another after shock would cause further collapses during the rescue effort, trapping or killing as many as a hundred more – and according to reports out of the Japanese media, that isn’t the end to the tragic story of North Korea’s most successful nuclear test to date.
Concerns have been levied by Japanese and Chinese experts that the mountain range that sits atop the Punggye-ri nuclear complex is growing increasingly unstable. This instability not only heightens the risk for further tunnel collapses, but could also potentially release dangerous levels of radiation into the environment; and according to some outlets from the region, that may already be happening.
According to Japanese outlet Asahi Shimbun, citing a North Korean source, the nation is already operating a hospital specifically to treat the soldiers and family members of those assigned to the Punggye-ri facility for radiation poisoning.