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Last Updated: Thursday, 29 April, 2004, 07:20 GMT 08:20 UK
Aid shipment arrives in N Korea
South Korean Red Cross staff wave from aboard a ship loaded with relief goods
The North insisted the aid be sent by boat
The first shipment of aid from South to North Korea in the wake of last week's train disaster has arrived in the Northern port of Nampo.

Seoul has also agreed to the North's request for millions of dollars of more substantial products, including cement, bulldozers and 50 television sets.

North Korea says $350m of damage was caused by last week's train explosion.

The first shipment could have arrived more quickly, but Pyongyang refused to allow it to travel overland.

The aid package includes instant noodles, blankets, bottled water, towels and clothes.

It will be transported from Nampo to Ryongchon, the site of the disaster, by road.

Analysts said the North's insistence on the longer sea route demonstrated Pyongyang's sensitivity about the area around the land border which separates the two Koreas.

The number of people known to have died in the accident, in which a power line struck wagons of oil and chemicals, stood at 161 on Wednesday, with 370 victims still in hospital.

The North Korean state news agency KCNA said there had been "horrible" human and material loss, and that many victims had been left "deaf and blind".

However, the agency lauded the "heroic" deaths of those who died trying to save portraits of Kim Jong-il and his deceased father, Kim Il-sung.

It talked of two workers in Ryongchon County Procurement Shop who were buried when they re-entered the building to rescue the portraits, and of teacher Han Jong-suk, who "also breathed her last with portraits in her bosom".

"Many people of the county evacuated portraits before searching after their family members or saving their household goods," the report said.

Boxes of aid

Seoul said it had also agreed to a North Korean shopping list worth up to 32bn won ($27m), including 50,000 tons of cement, 10 bulldozers, 1,000 tons of reinforced steel bars, 50 television sets and 10,000 tons of food.

"We hope this kind of humanitarian aid will help the two Koreas build mutual confidence," said South Korean Unification Minister Jeong Se-hyun.

A team of foreign aid workers visited Ryongchon on Wednesday and described people trying to rebuild their town with their bare hands.

And aid workers from the UN's World Food Programme say hospitals treating the survivors of last week's explosion have no modern medical equipment of any kind.

They described conditions as "very basic", saying that even simple items like intravenous drips were scarce.

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