Fire appears to have been put out at North Korean hotel

AP News
Posted: Jun 11, 2015 12:05 PM

TOKYO (AP) — A fire appeared to have been put out Thursday at one of Pyongyang's best hotels, according to witnesses in the North Korean capital.

No official confirmation of a fire was available from North Korean authorities and the extent of possible damage or injuries at the Koryo Hotel was not known.

Fire trucks were lined up on the street in front of the hotel late Thursday night but the situation appeared to be under control, according to a foreigner in Pyongyang who spoke to AP after driving past the building. The witness said the hotel's lights were working and there did not appear to be a sense of emergency among the fire crews at the scene.

During the late afternoon, another witness reported seeing "fire and lots of black smoke from several top floors" of the Koryo, which is in central Pyongyang.

The building with two signature towers linked by a walkway on the upper floors is a Pyongyang landmark and often used by foreigners who visit the country.

Both witness accounts were provided anonymously because North Korea severely restricts information shared with outsiders. Its own official media typically do not cover events with immediacy and did not report Thursday about the fire.

An operator who answered the hotel's phone would not respond to AP's questions about whether there had been a fire.

When a 23-story apartment building collapsed in Pyongyang in May 2014, officials confirmed it five days later and described it as "serious," but never announced a death toll. They said leader Kim Jong Un had "sat up all night, feeling painful after being told about the accident."